An Overland Park man who witnessed a 16-year-old high school baseball player go into cardiac arrest while pitching a game Monday credits a quick-thinking coach and defibrillator with saving the teen’s life.
Brennan Connell, a student at Olathe West High School, remained in serious condition Thursday at Children’s Mercy Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman. It is still unclear what prompted him to go into cardiac arrest.
During the fourth inning of a game at Blue Valley Southwest High School, Connell “all of a sudden dropped,” said Mike Sorbin, who had just joined his wife in the stands to watch his son play for Blue Valley and casually knows the Connell family.
Trainers and coaches rushed to the field. Sorbin’s wife Kortnee, a physician, quickly assessed the situation and joined the others on the baseball diamond. It was the first game she attended this season.
They moved Connell onto his side and were checking his pulse, said Sorbin, who initially thought the teen may have had a seizure.
“I was praying like crazy,” he said.
Sorbin then saw Olathe coach Rick Sabath “take off.”
A few seconds later, Sabath returned carrying a big, gray bag. It contained an automatic external defibrillator. The device has the ability to check heart rhythm and shock it back into a regular rhythm. It indicated Connell needed the shock, which was administered.
During the commotion, Sorbin, who is a professional photographer, noticed the players kneeling and captured a few images of the somber moment.
When he turned his attention back to the field, he saw Kortnee giving Connell CPR.
“It all became so surreal when I saw my wife performing CPR on a kid,” Sorbin said. “She did a great job.”
Paramedics transported Connell, who was alert, to the hospital.
“Brennan had lots of angels watching over him that day,” Sorbin said.
One piece of luck for Connell: Before Sabath was a coach for Olathe, he had been a coach for Blue Valley, so he knew where the AED was stored. No one told Sabath to grab it, he just knew what to do, Sorbin said.
“If he didn’t get that AED pack, Brennan may not be alive,” Sorbin said.
Sorbin said the incident was “eye opening” and that he hopes it makes people more aware about the potentially life-saving AEDs.