MURRAY, Utah — Darren Ewell grew up playing softball. Finally being able to join a rec league after retiring recently, he had little concern for his health.
“My father, grandfather, great grandfather all died of heart attacks," he said "But I'm 57; they were in their 60s.”
He was playing shortstop on April 27, feeling perfectly fine.
“I was starting the fourth inning," said Ewell. "And all of a sudden, I just woke up in the hospital.”
Miraculously, Danya Topham, a registered nurse with Intermountain Healthcare, had just sat down in the bleachers moments before to watch her boys play.
“I heard, 'Call 911!' and I immediately looked out. My angle was right to shortstop," she recalled. "I saw Darren laying down, sprawled. I immediately jumped out the chair, ripped off my coat and ran out to him and dropped to the ground.”
Topham administered CPR until police and fire crews arrived to help.
A happy ending thanks to CPR and an Intermountain Healthcare nurse at the right place at the right time. Danya Topham, RN had just gotten off her shift at Intermountain Medical Center’s Same-Day Surgery. She went to watch her kids play softball, when someone yelled "Call 911!" pic.twitter.com/qmvPKspiig— Intermountain (@Intermountain) June 9, 2022
“I remember when I moved away from him, I said, 'I don't think it's going to make it,'" she said. "And it just crushed me.”
Doctors at the hospital told Ewell he would not have made it if Topham wasn’t there.
“I keep on running this back in my mind: 'Why me?'" he said. "'Why am I fortunate to be here where most people don't?' And I don't know the answer to that. I don't know exactly why I survived this and why it happened when it did.”
Topham has been a nurse for 12 years and has performed CPR numerous times — but never like this.
“Completely different situation out there in real life," she said. "You take a lot of comfort at work, knowing that you can just hit a button and everybody's going to rush in and help you. The difference was I didn't have that.”
The two were strangers; now they're best friends.
“People really just need to learn how to do CPR," said Topham. "Just do it, and you can save a life. I did.”
Topham, along with police and fire officials who helped that night, all received a Life Saving Award at a city council meeting in Murray on Tuesday. Fire Chief Joseph Mittleman hopes this story will inspire more Utahns to get CPR certified; Murray teaches classes on the second Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m. at Fire Station #81.