University of Utah football player who saved stranger’s life shares his story

Posted at 9:30 PM, Oct 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-30 09:40:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY – People are calling him a hero, but a University of Utah football player says he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Seni Fauonuku was hanging out with teammates when he was summoned to help a man who overdosed, and at that point his instincts kicked in. Fauonuku performed CPR and saved the stranger’s life.

Seni Fauonuku plays defensive tackle for the Utes, and he’s part of an aggressive squad who dominates on the field, but it’s a play off the field that is earning him big points.

“It was a scary situation,” recalled Fauonuku.

The senior football player was playing video games with some of his teammates last week at an apartment complex in Salt Lake when a neighbor banged on the door.

“He's like, 'We're doing chest compressions.' As soon as he said that, I just knew something is up. Someone's not doing too good,” Fauonuku said.

Fauonuku ran across the hall and found a man sprawled out on a Lazy Boy. He was suffering from a possible overdose.

“He was all purple. His tongue was out. His eyes were rolled all the way back,” Fauonuku said.

Fauonuku immediately began administering CPR.

“The whole time I was doing it I was like, 'I don't want this guy to die. Just don't die on me,'” said Fauonuku.

A few minutes later, the defensive tackle revived the man. Paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital.

Fauonuku says he heard from the man a few days later.

“Yeah, he actually brought a 6 pack over like two days later, and I guess he's fine,” Fauonuku said.

CPR is a skill Fauonuku picked up from his mother, who is a nurse.

“The first time I saw her do CPR I was 10," he said. "We were at a swap meet, and we were walking and a homeless guy just collapsed."

In high school, he put the training to the test in a situation that hit close to home and still haunts him to this day.

"In 2009, my nephew got into an accident, and I performed CPR on him and he ended up passing away,” Fauonuku said. “When we ran into the apartment, that was like the first thing that popped into my head.”

The 22-year old says he’s no hero. But by learning CPR, anyone can help save lives.

“You could just be at a restaurant and someone collapses, and if you know CPR, it could make a difference in that person's life,” Fauonuku said.

FOX 13 asked Seni if he plans to pursue a career in the medical field after graduation. He says his passion is working with Native American and Polynesian youth.