Charlie Curtis came so close to death on that high school track. In fact, for a while, his heart stopped beating.
It happened last Tuesday, April 29, during a Plant High School PE class. The 15-year-old freshman was on lap three of a timed mile.
He doesn't remember the first stumble, but his friends do. "I got back up. They asked me if I was okay," Curtis said. "I gave them 2 thumbs up. I kept on walking then I fell down again."
He didn't get back up this time. School staff, including his P.E. teacher Carrie Mahon, rushed to help. School nurse Kayla Spilman didn't feel a pulse. What happened next is something Charlie will never forget. "I remember when they were doing CPR I felt like I was floating above everyone," he said. "I felt no emotion but I knew the situation was going on. I was above my body. I could see everyone around me but I couldn't see faces. I didn't know what they were doing."
What they were doing was grabbing the defibrillator and using it to save Charlie's life. Carrie Mahon gives most of the credit to Charlie, though.
"Charlie was such an incredible fighter that day … the look on his face and the look in his eyes," she said. "The breaths he would just fight so tremendously hard to take - he's the man."
What he fought so hard to overcome was sudden cardiac arrest. It strikes without warning, especially for young Charlie, who doesn't even have a family history of heart problems. He's an active teenager who stays fit, especially sailing.
"It's the most frightening call any parent could ever think of receiving," said Lisa Curtis, Charlie's mother. "It could've been such a different scenario. Charlie collapsed within 20 feet of an AED. He could've been out sailing in the middle of the bay."
Charlie will wear a pacemaker for the rest of his life and will need to have it changed every 10 years. But he understands his new lease on life. In fact, he thanked everyone who saved him when he returned to Plant High School on Thursday, a week after he nearly lost his life on the track.
"I was just really glad that they were ready," he said with a smile.
Zip Code Weather!
Get a local weather report and a 10-day forecast by typing in your zip code!