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Neighbors rush to the rescue after heart attack

July 22, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • John O'Callaghan, top right, suffered a heart attack on July 6 at Marina High School. Marina baseball coach Bob Marshall and Brea Police narcotics detective John Hoetker saved his life by performing CPR and using a defibrillator.
John O'Callaghan, top right, suffered a heart attack… (Courtesy Whitney…)

John O'Callaghan was known by his friends and community to be a healthy person. His wife, Whitney, said he's never had health complications, doesn't eat red meat and works out consistently. And according to their friend and neighbor, Jim Knapp, O'Callaghan played a season in the National Football League as a tight end for the Seattle Seahawks.

It was a surprise to Whitney O'Callaghan when she received a phone call on July 6 that her husband was down on the ground at Marina High School and didn't have a pulse, she said.

"I don't know what I was thinking, because I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me. You can't be talking about my husband,'" she said. "If you knew my husband, you'd know how crazy this is. It's crazy. We still can't believe it."

She said John, 49, was with their two children and a neighbor's child at the field at Marina that afternoon kicking around a soccer ball, something he does every week. But at around 3 p.m., he suffered a heart attack and began to go into cardiac arrest.

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During that time, Marina baseball coach Bob Marshall was hosting a baseball tournament at the field.

As the diamond was being prepared for another game and the teams were warming up, Marshall, a Huntington Beach resident, was at a snack bar and was approached by O'Callaghan's 7-year-old son, Aidan, who asked the coach to help his father.

"I saw he was down and I started running to get a defibrillator because I didn't know what was going on," Marshall said.

While Marshall and his son, Nick, were getting the automated external defibrillator from a nearby classroom, a coach from one of the teams and a friend of Marshall's, John Hoetker, ran to O'Callaghan and started to perform CPR.

"When I got there, O'Callaghan was on his back and his kids were there crying," said Hoetker, who is also a Huntington Beach resident. "I immediately checked his pulse and he wasn't breathing. He didn't have a pulse."

It was neither Marshall nor Hoetker's first time trying to save another person's life. Hoetker is a narcotics detective for the Brea Police Department and has been in law enforcement for the last 24 years. Marshall has been certified to teach CPR and defibrillator use and had to use the device five years ago on one of his assistant coaches.

Marshall soon arrived with the defibrillator and gave O'Callaghan a shock, praying that they had gotten to him in time to save his life.

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