FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – As Kyle Woods reached the last few yards of his first half marathon, his mom reached out for a high-five and his dad couldn’t help but snap a photo.
“We were just so excited for him,” Paul Woods said with a smile.
Yet the next picture Paul took left him almost speechless.
“You can’t explain it. You can’t,” he said tearfully.
Seconds after crossing the finish line of the Colorado Half Marathon in Fort Collins last Sunday, Kyle’s heart suddenly stopped. The otherwise healthy and physically fit 24 year old went into cardiac arrest.
“We were walking to meet him at the finish and his friend told us, ‘Kyle passed out,’” Paul explained. “When we got to him and saw paramedics doing chest compressions, we knew it was serious. It’s surreal. You don’t ever think you’d see your child in that condition.”
Thankfully, a team of UCHealth paramedics staged at the race’s finish line was able to rush to Kyle’s side quickly. They performed CPR for 12 minutes before bringing him back to life.
“When we got to him, we couldn’t get a pulse,” Monique Rose, one of the paramedics, said. “We did three rounds of CPR and obtained a pulse within eight minutes. He was conscious and sitting up by the time we put him in the ambulance.”
Monique said at one point she saw Kyle wave from the ambulance.
“That was surprising,” she said.
Perhaps even more surprising, less than 48 hours later Kyle was up and walking at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. It’s where he, along with his parents, reunited with Monique and EMT Greg Harding who helped saved his life.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today talking to you,” Kyle said tearfully to CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Kyle has no memory of collapsing at the finish line, but recalls feeling a bit light headed before “everything went dark.”
“I remember crossing the finish line, grabbing my medal… and starting to get tunnel vision,” he described. “So I sat down and that’s the last memory I have.”
He does recall being put in the back of an ambulance.
“I really had no idea what was happening,” he said. “I was scared.”
What he won’t soon forget, he explained, is the comforting hug and reunion with Monique and Greg.
“Those people are very important to me and my family,” Kyle said. “I owe them my life.”
Kyle’s doctors told him he has a strong heart, so it’s puzzling why it suddenly stopped. A defibrillator was installed on Friday to permanently monitor his heart’s rhythm, and he was home recovering the next day. Paul said his son’s long-term diagnosis is good, and there’s a lot of hope he’ll be back to his active self soon.
“There’s this immense relief, obviously, that comes over you,” Paul said. “And so much thankfulness.”
As for Kyle, he said his unexpected experience proves just how fragile life can be.
“Don’t take life for granted,” he said. “I definitely won’t be anymore.”