A quick-thinking spouse. A man with the presence of mind to remember his CPR training from decades ago. An unknown passerby who jumped in to help. Expert medical teams. All combined to bring a Huntington man back from death in September and restore him to his family.
Peter Skura, 63, his wife, Janice, and his sons and their families celebrated Thursday at Huntington Hospital with a gathering to thank the medical teams that brought him back to life when his heart suddenly stopped on Sept. 20.
Janice Skura said her husband was driving the car when his hands slipped off the steering wheel. She thought he was joking around until she saw his head fall back and bubbles form around his mouth. His foot was still on the accelerator. She was able to throw her leg over the console, grab the wheel and step on the brakes to bring the vehicle to a halt, open his door and begin screaming for help.
Nearby was Kevin Klis, 53, a custodian in the Harborfields school district, who heard her screams. The East Northport resident rushed over and told her to put the car in park. He reached back to lessons from a CPR class he had taken in high school to know what to do next. He was near the scene at precisely the right moment because he had been delayed for several minutes by car problems after leaving work. Another man also nearby also came by to help take Skura from the car. Klis, after checking for a pulse and heartbeat and finding none, began chest compressions.
Someone called 911, bringing rescuerswithin three minutes from both Dix Hills and Commack departments who both responded because the car was stopped right on the line between the two districts. Fumbling around for her phone, Janice Skura called one of her sons. “I told him, ‘Your father is dead on Daly Road. Hurry.’ And he was.” He had suffered cardiac arrest, meaning his heart had stopped and no blood was being pumped to the rest of his body.
“I just stopped breathing and literally died in in the car seat,” Skura said Thursday.
Klis worked on Skura until the paramedic teams arrived. Paramedic John Mancino said Skura was dead but that the teams appllied two shocks, restarting his heart and his breathing returned. From there, they rushed him to Huntington Hospital where cardiac specialists took over and where he would spend eight days recovering from the cardiac arrest.