Murray City honors nurse for saving stranger’s life

Jun 8, 2022, 10:02 AM | Updated: 1:12 pm

MURRAY, Utah — Murray City Council members honored an off-duty nurse who saved a man’s life during a softball game.

Tuesday night at the Municipal Building, Murray City firefighters, police officers and community members gathered in the council chambers to celebrate Darren Ewell’s life and future health.

On April 27, Ewell was playing in a recreation league softball game.

“I wasn’t tired or anything,” Ewell said. “The last thing I remember was starting the fourth inning, and all of a sudden, I woke up in the hospital.”

The 57-year-old suffered a major heart attack while playing shortstop at Ken Price Field.

“I heard someone loudly yell, ‘Call 911.’ And then I saw a man sprawled out,” Danya Topham said.

Topham has been a nurse for 12 years. She works at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

She had just worked a full shift when she arrived at the ballpark to watch her sons play their games.

“I was really tired. I considered not going, and I wanted to sit far away in the outfield. But my husband encouraged me to sit in the stands. I had just sat down when Darren collapsed,” Topham said.

Topham didn’t hesitate. She rushed the field and checked Ewell’s pulse.

“He didn’t have a pulse,” she said. “I started CPR and asked some of his teammates to back me up when I got tired.”

Emergency responders arrived and aided Topham in saving Ewell’s life.

“After they shocked him, I think it was four times, there was nothing. I kept telling him to live,” Topham said. “But then, I heard one of the paramedics say, ‘Sir, your heart is not working. We are going to take you to the hospital.’ And I thought, ‘Holy crap, he woke up!’ I was in shock and so excited.”

Ewell was transported to Intermountain Medical Center where he received immediate care in the Cath Lab, including four stents.

“If she hadn’t taken immediate and aggressive action to do CPR, which broke my ribs, the doctor said there would be no way I would have survived this heart attack,” Ewell said. “I just feel like there was miracle after miracle — the fact that a nurse was watching my game and that I was so close to the hospital. I am so thankful.”

Health officials said sudden cardiac arrest occurs suddenly and often without warning. It is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. With its pumping action disrupted, the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. Seconds later, a person loses consciousness and has no pulse. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment. Doctors said Topham’s immediate response saved Ewell’s life.

Ewell said he didn’t feel sick, unhealthy or tired prior to the heart attack. He did note his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all passed away from heart attacks.

The once strangers are now good friends.

“Learn CPR. Take a class. You could save someone’s life. I did,” Topham said.

Murray City offers a CPR class the second Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m. at Fire Station 81.

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Murray City honors nurse for saving stranger’s life