Golfer who 'died five times' returns to Medina golf course to thank rescue crews for saving his life

Uniontown man beats massive heart attack odds

MEDINA, Ohio - Many golfers know that making the right decisions, along with a little bit of luck, can go a long way on the golf course.

Richard Nester needed good fortune and decisive action by 11 determined heroes to survive a massive heart attack and live to play another round.

"Apparently, I died five times and came back," Nester said.

On June 7, Nester, 66, arrived at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Medina to play in an outing with friends.

He barely remembers being on the course. On the 14th hole, he complained to his foursome about "a bad case of indigestion."

Nester, a married independent insurance agent from Uniontown, headed to the clubhouse, where an alert employee recognized possible symptoms of a heart attack and called 911. He talked briefly with the arriving firefighters and a police officer. Moments later, he collapsed.

"I was standing behind him putting oxygen on and my partner noticed his eyes roll back, so we got him down on the ground and started CPR," said James Kuruc, a Medina Township firefighter.

For the next 30 minutes, the rescue efforts were intense between paramedics with the Medina Hospital Life Support Team, firefighters and police officers.

Paramedics performed continuous CPR and shocked Nester with a defibrillator multiple times. His heart stopped and restarted five times.

"Anytime somebody suffers sudden death and they respond the way this patient did, it is a miracle," said Dennie Simpson, a paramedic who worked on Nester.

Still, it was touch and go.

"I thought he had a very slim chance when he left," said Medina Township Sgt. Todd Zieja.

Nester was taken to Medina Hospital, where the medical staff worked on him for an additional hour.  A doctor nearly declared Nester dead, but his pulse returned.

He was flown by helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic, where he began his remarkable recovery.

Doctors told Nester that the main artery feeding blood to his heart had been blocked-- a type of heart attack that kills most people.

"This is the heart attack they call the widow maker because generally you're dead in seconds... I guess I am a miracle because I understand there's only a 13 percent survival rate," Nester said.

Nester said the only memory he has of his dramatic rescue was seeing flashes of light while he was getting shocked. His eyes were closed and the defibrillator does not give off a flash.

"When lightning shoots behind the clouds, how it just flashes a big flash, that's what I saw," Nester said.

"You understand at least something is going on and if he saw a light and he got pushed back out, I think that's a great thing," Zieja said.

About a month after the heart attack, Nester returned to the golf course where he was greeted by a round of applause from most of the 11 people who played a role in saving his life.

"Thank you very much. If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here," he told his personal heroes.

It was the first time rescue crews had seen Nester since he nearly died. They were amazed by his quick recovery and how strong he looked.

"We'd like a hug," Simpson said, as he wrapped his arms around Nester.

Police officers, firefighters and paramedics often don't get a thank you for their life-saving efforts. Nester's words meant a lot to them.

"When you have one like this gentleman, it is rewarding and that's why we do the job," Simpson said.

Medina Township Police Chief David Arbogast said he plans to recognize all 11 people involved in Nester's rescue during an upcoming board of trustees meeting.

Nester said he hopes to get back on the golf course within a few weeks and he remains grateful for another chance at life.

"I think the good Lord has a purpose for all of us. He's got your whole life planned for you and apparently he wasn't done with me yet," he said.

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