Cardiac arrest survivor thanks those who stopped to save his life on busy Wilmington road

Updated: Jul. 18, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Larry Modlin was driving on S. College Road near UNCW this spring when his heart stopped.

He was in cardiac arrest but still managed to pull his truck over to the right side of the road and try to call 911. A woman noticed him slumped over the steering wheel and stopped to help. A second person, an ER nurse at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, saw the woman pull Modlin from his truck and also stopped to help.

The pair of women started CPR and dialed 911. EMS arrived on scene and shocked Modlin’s heart back into rhythm; after seven tries, his heart was beating on its own.

While Modlin doesn’t remember anything about what happened on May 21, people on scene tell him the first woman who stopped quietly left the scene when paramedics arrived without passing along her name or contact information.

Modlin was taken to the hospital where he lay in a coma for two weeks in the ICU. Four weeks after he checked into the hospital, he was able to go home.

“They literally saved my life and gave me a future by doing what they did,” Modlin said of the rescue. “The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize every day is a gift.”

He’s still working in physical therapy and visiting doctors, but he’s alive and getting stronger each day.

Doctors call his case a miracle. Modlin walked away from the episode with no permanent damage to his heart, brain or muscles.

Since the emergency, he has been able to thank his rescuers, sending letters and calling everyone involved in saving his life. Modlin says he’s reached all of his rescuers, except one.

Heading into the weekend, he was still searching for the first woman who stopped on May 21 and helped save his life. But on Sunday, she had reached out to WECT and has been in contact with the Modlins.

“Every day is a blessing. When you get up and you’re happy to be up… you might hurt, you might have to have a wheelchair to get you to the table, you may not be able to get out of bed, but you’re happy because you have another opportunity to say thank you or to say I love you,” said Modlin.

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