Miraculous timing, CPR make difference of life and death for Middletown cyclist

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- An off-duty Middletown police officer was in the right place at the right time Wednesday, and his quick reaction saved the life of a biker.

Tom Vearil had just suffered a heart attack on a bike path in Middletown, when a 911 call brought Ray Ortiz to the scene. Ortiz happened to be just around the corner.

"He was laying down on the path. He was blue, unresponsive," Ortiz said.

He soon determined that 66-year-old Vearil needed immediate CPR in order to survive.

"I checked for a pulse, he wasn't breathing realize," Ortiz said. "At that point, I had to start CPR. I looked to my left and I see some familiar faces."

Those faces were of Ortiz's friend and colleague John Palmer and his wife, Laura. They too just happened to be nearby.

"We first thought that he had probably wrecked his bicycle and when we got closer, we saw officer Ortiz pull his cruiser up to where the victim was at," John Palmer said.

"It's always good when you're in a stressful situation that you see someone that you know can help you, and John and I have been friends for a long time," Ortiz said.

Laura Palmer is a nurse, and she began performing CPR on Vearil right away.

"I just felt that everything happened at precisely the right time for that purpose to be here with that man," she said.

Vearil was taken to Atrium Medical Center for emergency surgery. He underwent triple bypass surgery, and soon after began recovering.

"To talk to his daughter the next day and the look of gratitude and happiness on her face that her dad was still alive... you can't beat it," Ortiz said. "You can't beat that."

Knowing how to perform CPR is crucial in some life-threatening situations. The American Heart Association offers courses that teach the public how to administer CPR. Find one near you by visiting the American Heart Association online .

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