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July 29, 2016

Man reunites with 4 who performed CPR on him at hip-hop concert

By Lauren Williams
The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Although he remembers nothing of the night, Jesse Anderson knows he owes his life to four men.

Four months ago, Anderson’s heart stopped while at a hip-hop show at The Observatory in Santa Ana. Amid a crowd growing around them, a cadre of first responders worked to revive the Cypress resident, performing CPR while pleading with him to fight on.

With a heavy sigh on Wednesday, the 20-year-old walked back into the music venue alongside his parents and girlfriend and shook the hands of the four who worked ceaselessly to restore his pulse and breathing.

“What a beautiful day,” said the young man’s father, Jeff Anderson. “Thanks to these men my son is still alive. These are my heroes right here.”

Minutes before midnight on March 6 at a concert for hip-hop group Flosstradamus, Jesse Anderson collapsed onto his girlfriend, Jenna Wood, inside the Observatory. He had just asked for water when his body crumpled.

With the help of a dozen friends and strangers, Wood carried Anderson’s 6-foot 5 frame outside, laying him out in the parking lot. He would later learn, after 10 days in the hospital, that severe dehydration had created an imbalance in electrolytes and denied his heart what it needed to pump blood.

“It was just a complete failure,” Anderson said.

The Observatory’s medic, Ken Decou, pumped air into Anderson’s chest with a bag valve mask, and security guard Duane Lewis pounded on the man’s chest to revive his heart.

Santa Ana police Corporal Oscar Lizardi saw Lewis growing tired and took over chest compressions while Officer John Rodriguez kept the crowd at bay. Both Santa Ana policemen were posted at The Observatory for the concert.

They kept going – and kept going.

“I was so far gone people told them to stop CPR,” Jesse Anderson said. “I can’t thank them enough for sticking to their training.”

While concertgoers told the four to stop their efforts, Lizardi thought of his 14-year-old son.

“We did hear comments like, ‘Stop. Stop. He’s dead,’” Lizardi recalled. “The first thing that came to mind is, ‘This is someone’s son, and I’m not going to stop.’”

Decou gazed into Anderson’s glassy eyes and continued his efforts despite seeing a vacancy.

“The whole time I’m looking into his eyes thinking the worst,” Decou said. “He passed away in our minds.”

They continued lifesaving efforts until paramedics arrived and took Anderson to Fountain Valley Medical Center. He later was transferred to a Los Angeles hospital.

Now, months later, Anderson has recovered. He and his father set out to arrange a meeting with the four men who saved the 20-year-old.

“I owe everything to them right now,” Anderson said. “I can’t be happier to be here.”

The rescuers were pretty happy, too.

“It’s one of the happier moments of my career,” said Rodriguez, a 28-year veteran of Santa Ana’s force.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” Decou said.

Copyright 2016 The Orange County Register

McClatchy-Tribune News Service