Tommy Lucero sits in the Thompson Valley library eating pizza and drinking soda with his baseball teammates. A high school freshman enjoying some time with his peers shouldn’t stand out, but in Tommy’s case it does. Just two weeks prior to this pizza party he died.
The freshman collapsed on the baseball field on March 5th. He went in to cardiac arrest for an estimated 6 minutes. The episode was the result of a birth defect in his heart, that took 14 years to catch up with him.
At the pizza party Tommy had a chance to meet the paramedics that brought him back. However, had his coaches not started the process: “Tommy wouldn’t be here,” said head coach Jay Denning bluntly. He’s been certified in CPR for years. Denning called 911 and directed players to get the school’s AED.
C-team coach Chad Raabe, a former EMT administered chest compressions until the paramedics arrived.
“We take for granted that we put our kids lives in the hands of coaches,” said Denning, “we all have the best intentions and the more we can be trained, the better we’re going to be.”
“You hope you never have to use it, but when you need it it’s sure good to know what you need to do,” Raabe told 9NEWS.
Tommy was airlifted to Children’s Hospital and needed heart surgery to repair the defect.
The recent get together at the high school library was more than dinner. Tommy got to see his coaches recognized by Louisville Slugger for the heroic actions.
“The main thing is that Tommy is still with us, that’s the best part of the deal,” said Raabe.
Baseball is a possibility, maybe as early as June. But Tommy’ isn’t sure he’ll play again.
It’s a big decision but more importantly, it’s one he gets to make.
“It feels great, I’m just ecstatic I get to be here another day,” said Tommy.