Manitoba Marathon heroes save runner’s life

When Shawn Crockett decided to run the half marathon at the Manitoba Marathon last weekend, he never imagined that decision would save someone's life.

When Shawn Crockett decided to run the half marathon at the Manitoba Marathon last weekend, he never imagined that decision would save someone’s life.

Crockett, a native of Thompson, Man. who now lives in Cornwall, Ont., almost didn’t run the race in Winnipeg last Sunday even though most of his extended family had planned to run it as part of a family reunion. He’d just finished running the full at the Ottawa Marathon three weeks before, and his sore knee was really acting up. But since his family had gathered from places like Yellowknife and Sudbury, he figured he’d give the half a go.

Around 14 or 15 kilometres into the race, Crockett says he saw a man lying on the ground surrounded by two other men and a woman on the phone calling 911. Crockett, who is trained in CPR, instantly stopped running.

“I asked, ‘is he breathing?’ and they said ‘no, he’s got no pulse,'” Crockett says. “I just started CPR.”

It’s lucky Crockett did, because it saved the other runner’s life.

“It’s not the first time I’ve had to do CPR,” Crockett says. “But the thing that was scary was that this guy was gone. There was no maybe about it. He was gone. The two men there with him couldn’t get a pulse, and he wasn’t breathing.”

Crockett managed to get the man breathing again on his own in a few minutes, but “it wasn’t a solid breathing. It was very shallow and jerky,” Crockett says. The man stopped breathing again, so Crockett continued CPR. He did it well – so well, in fact, when the EMTs arrived on scene, they told Crockett to continue CPR as they set up a defibrillator.

Once the EMTs defibrillated the man, Crockett says he started breathing again and an ambulance took him to hospital. He survived, and was released later in the week.

As for Crockett, he continued on and finished the race, albeit with a much different time than usual.

“My best half was 1:42:30,” he says. “This time I was in around 2:25. But this was probably the weirdest miles I’ve run in my life.”

Crockett’s a bit reluctant to call himself a hero, but others say he deserves all the praise. Sandra Danberg, the woman who called 911 from her cellphone, certainly thinks so.

“I was giving 911 the coordinates and another runner, who turned out to be Shawn, started doing CPR on him,” Danberg says. “He was amazing. I thought he was a doctor, he was so amazing.”

Danberg herself deserves praise for helping save the man’s life. She was running the half marathon as well when she came across the man lying on the ground.

“I didn’t have a good feeling,” she said. “I said to him, ‘are you all right?’ and he was unresponsive. I immediately called 911.”

Like Crockett, Danberg was uncertain as to whether or not she was even going to run the race. “I signed up for the race on Friday night,” she says. “And it was weird that I even had my phone. I don’t always bring it… I threw it in my pouch that day and had it.”

It seems like fate that these two good Samaritans were there to help another runner in need.

“You sort of figure everything happens for a reason,” Danberg says.

As for Crockett, he hopes the incident raises awareness of the importance of CPR training. It’s something everyone should do, he says, since you never know when you could save somebody’s life.

“If this makes one person take a CPR course and they save someone else’s life, it’s worth it,” he says.