Call it a simple twist of fate — times two: A teenager in western New York state has saved the life of the same woman who years ago saved his life.
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Seven years ago, Kevin Stephan of Lancaster, N.Y., was a bat boy for his younger brother’s Little League baseball team. A player who was warming up accidentally hit him in the chest with a bat. Kevin’s heart stopped beating.
“All I remember is that I dropped the bat off, and all of a sudden just got hit in the chest with something, and I turned around and passed out,” Stephan said.
Fortunately, a nurse whose son played on that team was able to revive him and save his life.
“I started CPR on him and he came back,” Penny Brown said.
Stephan’s mother said he was extremely fortunate. Brown was supposed to be at work that night, but was given the day off at the last minute.
Now comes the really interesting part.
Last week that same nurse was eating at the Hillview Restaurant in Depew, N.Y., when she began to choke on her food. Witnesses say patrons were screaming for someone to help her.
“The food wasn’t going anywhere and I totally couldn’t breathe,” Penny said. “It was very frightening.”
Doing the Heimlich
Restaurant employees yelled for Stephan to come out and help. “They knew I was a volunteer firefighter and they called me over and I did the Heimlich, and I guess you could say I saved Mrs. Brown,” Stephan said.
At the restaurant, they realized the amazing twist of fate they had just witnessed. Seven years ago, Brown had saved Stephan's life. Now at age 17, he had returned the favor.
“It's almost unbelievable,” said Stephan, who is also an Eagle Scout.
“The fact that it has been two individuals, that you know, helped eachother out in a pretty dire situation, it's pretty extraordinary,” Brown said.
On Saturday, the two met again at the Bowmansville, N.Y., Fire Hall where Stephan is a junior firefighter. He presented her with a bouquet of flowers, and his parents were also there to greet Brown.
Points to value of knowing CPR
Officials with the American Red Cross in Buffalo said this story highlights the importance of receiving training in first aid and CPR.
Judith Rucki from the Red Cross’ Buffalo office said, “We always ask people, if someone in the cubicle next to you went into cardiac arrest, do you know what to do?”
The man who trained Stephan at the fire hall, Dan Curtis, said he was trained by the American Red Cross.
“He called to thank me for teaching him what I taught him in order to be able to do what he did at the restaurant,” Curtis said. “It was just incredible. And as an instructor, you can't get a better compliment than that — when somebody in the civilian world takes what they learn in a four-hour CPR class and actually uses it to save someone's life.”
The Red Cross is planning an award presentation for Stephan, and so are the Boy Scouts.
Robyn Young and Aaron Saykin of NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV contributed to this report.