Goalie makes huge save -- an opposing player's life
Oliver Urrego sprang into action March 1 when an opposing player collapsed on the ice during an adult league hockey game at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove.
Urrego, a goalie in the late-night game, rushed over to Tom Napholz after seeing him fall face-first, no doubt already unconscious since he didn't even put his arms out to brace for the fall. The Long Grove resident saw Napholz' ears turning blue and knew it was serious.
While a scorekeeper called 911, referees rushed to the facility's other rink, blowing a whistle to stop the game and ask if there was a doctor on the ice.
While the goaltender on Napholz's team, Mike Tuntland, started CPR, Urrego, 33, took charge of the life-or-death situation. He told other players to get the automated external defibrillator (AED), which the rink installed years ago.
"A couple of months ago, (my team) won a championship at Buffalo Grove and I remember seeing the AED at the rink and thinking, 'How awesome. God forbid I ever have to use it, but at least I know it's there,'" he said.
Urrego gave Napholz chest compressions, then used the AED to revive him. It was the first time he used an AED.
"After that second shock, it definitely restarted his motor. He started getting his color back, he started to respond, and then, about 30 seconds later, he opened his eyes," Urrego said. "It was an absolute miracle, for sure."
Paramedics arrived about five minutes later and took Napholz to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville for further treatment.
Urrego was "under control and running things," according to Mike Napholz, Tom's older brother and teammate.
"The paramedics praised Oliver -- he saved my brother's life," Mike Napholz said. "The emergency room physician told Tom, 'What they did for you saved your life. By all accounts, you should be dead right now.'
"It's a miracle … We're so grateful Oliver was there and able to do what he did."
Tom Napholz, 53, of Crystal Lake had an angiogram performed March 5, and doctors determined he had 80 percent blockage in one artery. He had open-heart surgery March 6. He's since been released from the hospital.
"I'm doing fine, other than the fact that three guys were beating the (heck) out of my sternum and someone electrocuted me twice," he said with a laugh. "They saved my life … I can't be grateful enough for what they did for me."
Tom said his hockey career is now in his doctor's hand, "but I absolutely want to skate again."
His collapse occurred shortly after he collided with an opposing player. He got up, asked if the other player was OK and took a few strides before passing out right in front of his team's bench.
It was not the first time Urrego has found himself in a life-of-death situation.
On May 24, 2017, his father-in-law, Tom Schuld, went into sudden cardiac arrest at Urrego's home. He and his wife, Erica, performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
"The second we got (Napholz's) helmet off, I saw my father-in-law; he had the same symptoms, was acting the same," Urrego said.
While undergoing treatment at Condell, Napholz was one door down from where Schuld stayed after his cardiac arrest. The same doctor treated both men.
"It's the weirdest divine intervention ever," said Urrego, who visited Napholz in the hospital -- and brought him two lottery tickets.