Bouwmeester collapse rekindles memory of hockey heart attack

Florissant man survived thanks to goalie and spectator.

Brian Kelly
February 13, 2020 - 10:50 am
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FLORISSANT, MO (KMOX) - It was just a few minutes into the men's league hockey game at the James J. Eagan Center in Florissant, the night of January 27, 2015, when Dave Clasby suddenly fell to the ice. "My son who played with me, my oldest son, had passed me the puck and I just went flat on my back and hit my head."

Clasby doesn't actually remember what happened from that moment until five days later, so he prefaces his remarks with 'so I've been told'. 

"Our goalie, Ron Kurtz, his son was an Eagle Scout so he had taken CPR, knew CPR. Ashley Obrock, who's now Mayor, was just watching her boyfriend at the time play. She was actually in an EMT class at the time. The topic was CPR, so she was always in the stands with her medical book and highlighting, so they brought her on the ice."

While others stood by praying and encouraging Dave to fight, Kurtz and Obrock kept him alive for the nine minutes it took for paramedics arrive.

"It was almost like they rehearsed it," Clasby says. "There are all the guys waiting at the doors to grab all their equipment and escort them onto the ice. I was in the middle of the ice and I always say, with my luck the defibrillator would be thrown up in the air from somebody slipping and broken."

Clasby says he had to be paddled three times on the ice and twice more in the ambulance.

Even though he doesn't remember the details of his incident, watching Jay Bouwmeester collapse on the Blues bench in Ahaneim Tuesday night, and the efforts to save him, brought it all back. "It stirred a lot of memories of everybody who was on the ice. I had my hockey buddies with me in the middle of a hockey game and I collapse on the ice. It was pretty traumatic event for all those guys....I do feel bad for putting them all through that....It can bring a tear to your eye." 

Clasby would never claim to be in as good a shape as Bouwmeester, but at the time of his collapse, the then 53-year-old had been playing hockey two or three times a week for years. He admits he had been feeling some chest pressure for a while, and didn't have the stamina he once had, but he thought it was just age. 

It turns out he had 100 percent blockage in his L.A.D., a condition commonly called 'a widowmaker'. "My cardiologist, the first time I met him after the incident, the first words to me were 'I'm a lucky man.'"

On his return to the rink, Dave thanks Ashley Obrock Mayer and Ron Kurtz
(Courtesy: Dave Clasby)

 

Every year Clasby celebrates the anniversary of his close call. "I text everybody involved. The first responders. The people I knew actively did something for me. It's a pretty sobbing time for me but I try to do it every year. I haven't missed one, yet." Among those who get the texts are the first paramedics on the scene, Mark Waller and Brian McHugh and current Florssant Valley Protection District Chief Jason Hoevelmann, firefighter/engineer Dan Terbrock and firefighter/paramedics Neil Beck and Rob Lore. 

And yes, Clasby did get back on the ice as soon as he could. "Probably, if I remembered any of it (it would haunt me). I think it's more an affect on the guys who were there because they experienced it. They don't like me skating in certain areas of the ice. On the anniversary I was skating the opposite way but a couple of guys did comment that it was kind of eerie for them on the five-year. They tell me I'm fortunate I don't remember any of it."

In addition to playing hockey, Clasby returned to work. He also volunteers to support first responders and is running for a seat on the Florissant City Council.

When discussing how the event has changed his life, Clasby says, "I will be forever grateful. Compassion for people in need and appreciate the people who don't skate by." 

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