Man suffers heart attack during XTERRA triathlon and receives lifesaving treatment

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – It was a truly miraculous event as Mike Edwards suffered a heart attack while participating in the XTERRA triathlon at Oak Mountain State Park when he was revived and rushed into open heart surgery.

“Our hearts are filled with so much gratitude for these guardian angles God placed in exactly the right spot at the right time who acted swiftly and confidently saving Mike’s life Friday, May 19, 2023 at the Xterra race in Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, Alabama,” said Mike’s wife Kara Scobey Ewards. “From the initial racers who found Mike and yelled for help, to fellow racer Dr. Nicole Carter who heard the calls for help and turned around to start CPR, to Jack Smith and Jonah Abercrombie, both seniors in high school, who had just finished their lifeguard shift on the lake and ran up the rocky bank barefoot to aid in CPR, to fellow racer Valerie Shows who stopped to do chest compressions, to the unknown person on the lake who raced over with an AED, and to the 2 EMTs from Pelham Firehouses 1 and 2— Roy Simpson and Buddy Ingleright—who arrived on scene and transported Mike to the hospital. Pelham Fire Department.”

Kara extended all her gratitude to those present during the race that aided in resuscitating Mike and keeping him in a stable condition. Kara posted a photo of Dr. Nicole Carter who is a pediatrician in Auburn and was present during the race to help, as well as racer Valerie Shows and Jack Ryan Smith who also helped in the moment of peril.

“I am so grateful that this wonderful man is still on this Earth,” Kara said. “God is so good and obviously not finished with him yet. Friday night, Mike suffered a cardiac arrest at a mini/sprint triathlon. Fellow riders and a close by lifeguard started CPR and kept his heart beating until paramedics could shock him into sinus rhythm. He was transported to the local ER where it was confirmed he was having a heart attack and has several blockages.  Mike still has a long road to recovery but he is here and stable. Thank you to everyone who has reached out, family and friends and all the prayers. We appreciate each and every one of you.”

Mike said he has limited memory of what occurred while he was racing, but does have memories of waking up in the hospital and of his vision beginning to blur prior to his heart attack.

“I went to swim, no problem, got on my bike and still felt fine,” Mike said. “Somewhere in the woods, my vision started going dark and closing in. All I remember is a couple people passing me, and I left them pass me because I knew I was getting kind of slow. They said, ‘You don’t look good.’ I know there was a bridge or dam close to me and I kept thinking, “You got to get there.’ Beyond that, my next memory is, I vaguely remember the ENT shocking me back into rhythm. I remember some of the ride back to the hospital.”

Mike said that he was told by other attendees of the race and those present during his heart attack, that CPR was performed for 15 minutes. He cites this event as being nothing short of miraculous.

“That is a pretty miraculous amount of time for me to come out of that with no apparent mental damage,” Mike said. “Dr. Nicole Carter seemed like she headed the thing up, orchestrated it and made sure everyone was keeping up with chest compressions and breathing at the right rate. Paramedics tell me there was a very big group of people there by the time they got there. I was at the only accessible part of the trail where they could easily get me to the ambulance. They just don’t get to take people away from cardiac arrest to the hospital and come back and get to visit them later in as good of shape as I am.”

Mike said God is most assuredly working in his favor in order to keep him alive today, and his wife Kara took to Facebook to tell everyone how much their acts of services meant to both her and her husband.

“I know there are many more kind people that helped Mike that night that we’ll never know,” Kara said. “Thank you so much. Thank you, Kirk, from XTERRA for contacting me so quickly and keeping me informed along the way until I could reach the hospital.  The doctors and nursing staff here at Shelby Memorial Baptist have been nothing short of amazing. We are truly blessed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Mike said he had at least one artery that clogged completely due to the heart attack at the race, upon a scan, more blockages were found.

“I remember from Saturday evening to Sunday morning and Monday, I have pretty good memory of all that,” Mike said. “When I went into open heart surgery, I don’t remember anything about the surgery, but I remember coming out of it. I remember the ventilator in my mouth and people talking to me.”

Mike said he never noticed any real problems with his heart prior to this heart attack, but he is recovering well from open heart surgery, and his story is one that truly will be passed down and told for years to come. His miraculous story shows what it is to bring the people of Shelby County together and shows an integral part of the human experience.