‘It was divine intervention’: cyclist finds faith after officers save his life

Posted at 5:58 PM, Sep 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-03 19:58:25-04

LAYTON, Utah - If there was ever a time and place to have a heart attack, a Layton bicyclist found himself there.

Wednesday 57-year-old Roger Bills was on a 40-mile bicycle ride with his wife and father-in-law.

Bills and his wife Charlotte are avid cyclists and ride hundreds of miles a year.

They were training for 52-mile ride at Bear Lake two weeks from now.

Bills had an injury after falling off his bike in April and had only been riding again the last six weeks.

He said he had been having chest pain over the last month.

Bills had seen a doctor every week the last four weeks but said no one thought his pain would lead him to a heart attack.

“I stopped, it was about mile 19,” Bills said about the ride. “I felt like I was going to throw up and I did throw up. And I'm like, 'It's just exhaustion.'”

He decided to head back home to Layton and made a few more stops along the way.

“I thought, 'So, I want to go straight and avoid that hill, or do I want to take that hill,' and I thought, ‘I feel good enough, I think I can make this hill,’” Bills said.

He dropped his bike into low gear and pedaled up the hill.

When he got up to Layton Parkway, he saw a few Davis County deputies making an arrest.

“We saw him riding by,” Deputy Paramedic Christopher Pope said. “I looked at him and then looked away. Then I heard the 'scrape' noise coming from behind me. I looked back over here and in the middle of the roadway the male on the bicycle had fallen off.”\

He and Deputy Paramedic Josh McEwen rushed over.

“We started treating him in the middle of the road,” McEwen said. “I pulled my vehicle around to stop traffic.”

Bills described the last moment he remembered.

“I see some light flashing, just like camera flashes, boom, boom, boom," he said. "Like when you turn a tube TV off, it's just like that and it's gone, everything went black.”

The deputy paramedics used their defibrillator and got his pulse back.

“He was talking with us before the ambulance arrived,” Pope said.

“My chest hurt so bad I couldn't even breathe,” Bills said.  “Here I am lying on the road and I am wondering, ‘Did I get hit by a car,’ and finally I ask, 'Did I get hit by a car?’ And they go, ‘Do you know what happened?’ And I say ‘I don't know what happened.’ That's when they told me ‘you had a heart attack.’”

Davis County deputies are the only law enforcement in the state who are also trained as paramedics.

“We know when people have a cardiac event, time is of the essence,” Pope said. “Today [Wednesday] we were right next to this man who died and because we were there, we were able to restart his heart and he is alive because of that.”

Bills does not understand how he happened to have a heart attack at the right time and the right place.

“I keep asking myself, I'm not that religious, why was this me? That plays over again," he said.

He said he doesn’t know what to believe but he is starting to find faith.

“To me, it was divine intervention because the stars all lined up right from the beginning," he said.

Bills said he wants his story to encourage other law enforcement agencies to also train as paramedics.