A life on the line: ETX man makes incredible recovery after his - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

A life on the line: ETX man makes incredible recovery after his heart stops


His heart stopped, leaving him without a pulse for several minutes. Yet, David Crouch is still here to share his story. 

The 53-year-old man from Gresham, just south of Tyler, says heart disease runs in his family. What he didn't know was the heart attack he was about to have would leave him with a one in ten chance of survival. 

Crouch's story is not only about beating the odds, it's also about an incredible twist of fate that helped save his life. 

We met Crouch on the one-month anniversary of his heart attack. It was the first time he stood on the same stairs where he collapsed that day. 

Doctors say, if Crouch would not have fallen where he did, we would not be hearing this story. Now, Crouch is thanking those doctors who he says performed a miracle. 

"How you doing sir? You look a lot better today," says Bubba Skirlock, one of the nurses who took care of Crouch during his heart attack. 

"I bet you I do. I thank you all very much. I really do, honestly," says Crouch. 

Their paths crossed on January 7, 2014. Crouch says he was grilling in his backyard when his chest started to hurt. 

"I felt like when you were growing up and you got hit in the chest with a baseball, that's what it felt like. I went right outside, tried to get some fresh air and that's when I walked in and said just get me to a place."

Eight minutes later, David's wife Janie pulled their car right in front of the ETMC Medical Center on South Broadway in Tyler. 

"I got out of the car, and I seen the heads sitting there. And that's all I remember," Crouch says.

Janie says she remembers every detail,"I see him turn around and collapse straight to the ground."

"He literally looked at us and said I can't feel my left arm, I can't feel the left side of my body," says Doctor Jeffery Leach, the emergency room doctor who was the first to help Crouch. 

"Basically, I bounced off here and bounced off that, and hit my head. I still have the knots in my head," Crouch says. 

Doctor Leach and his team of nurses went to work right on the stairs outside of the medical center. 

"At that point, you're pressing on his chest as hard and as fast as you can waiting for the defibrillator to come," Leach says. 

"They brought out the defibrillator and there was a flat line, nothing, no pulse at all. Once they gave him the shock, he came back right on the first shock," Janie Crouch remembers. 

"He woke up and looked around and was asking us, 'What are you doing?!'" Dr. Leach says. 

Crouch went from full cardiac arrest to walking and talking in around 12 minutes. 

"Of course to us it felt like probably 12 years," says Dr. Leach. 

The first thing Crouch remembers is his ambulance ride to the hospital, "I remember someone asking me my Social Security number. Being military, I rattled it off and I guess that's when I came back."

Crouch went right into surgery when he got to the ETMC hospital in Tyler. Doctors say one of his arteries was almost completely blocked. 

"Honestly, I had angels on me, that's how I feel. They're my guardian angels and I shouldn't be here," says Crouch. 

Doctor Leach says God was watching out for them, making this emotional reunion possible, "To actually see a patient up and walking and smiling and back to normal is what we live for."

Crouch jokes he needs a plaque to mark where he was rescued. His wife says standing here brings back terrifying memories. 

"It's something I can't get out of my mind. I got to see it so it's very hard but I'm just lucky and I'm glad that he's alive."

David is ready to move forward, "It's really gone through mentally on me thinking, 'Why me? Why am I here and not them?' But you know what? I'm just going to recover, thank God I have my family and move on."

On to a new life of grace and gratitude where every minute counts. 

David Crouch is still going to therapy three times a week. He says, other than a sore chest and a little bit of a foggy brain, he is doing well. 

His doctors say if Crouch and his wife would have waited for an ambulance, or tried to drive all the way to ETMC's main hospital in Tyler, David would not be alive. 

For more information on what to do if you think you or someone you love is having a heart attack click here

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