Davis boy, 12, honored for saving dad's life

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  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    By Hudson Sangree

    Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
    Last Modified: Friday, Dec. 4, 2009 - 7:59 am

    ANNE CHADWICK WILLIAMS / awilliams@sacbee.com

    Bill Marsh, with son Daniel in his Davis home this week, was saved by his son's quick thinking Nov. 9. The episode began when Bill Marsh experienced chest pains while helping his son with his homework

    Daniel Marsh is a hero.

    The 12-year-old Davis boy grabbed the wheel of the family station wagon when his father, Bill Marsh, suffered a nearly fatal heart attack and blacked out while driving Nov. 9.

    Daniel steered the speeding car away from oncoming traffic and slammed it into a wall to stop it. Then he thumped his dad's chest with his fist, as he'd seen on TV, until his dad's heart started beating again.

    Hospital employees, who heard Daniel's story as he sat anxiously beside his father's bed in an emergency room, nominated the seventh-grader as a hero with the American Red Cross of Yolo County.

    Today, Daniel and 13 other Yolo County residents who saved lives in dramatic rescues will be honored at the Red Cross chapter's annual Heroes Luncheon at the University of California, Davis.

    Daniel and his father recounted their story Wednesday in the living room where it started.

    Bill Marsh, 60, said he was helping Daniel, who splits time between his mother's and father's houses, with his math homework.

    Math is Daniel's favorite subject at Holmes Junior High School.

    He has a mop of brown hair and hazel eyes, and is a step or two away from earning a black belt in karate.

    On that Monday afternoon, Bill Marsh, a retired building inspector, said he began to feel a pain in his chest that soon became overwhelming.

    "I think we need to go to the hospital," he told Daniel. "I think I'm having a heart attack."

    Sutter Davis Hospital was just a few minutes away. They got into their silver Volvo wagon and were going about 50 mph on busy Covell Boulevard when Bill Marsh's heart stopped beating.

    The man's arms went out and his eyes went wide, his son said.

    "He just flew back in his seat with a look like he wasn't there anymore," Daniel said.

    Daniel said the car was swerving. His father's foot was still on the gas pedal, and Daniel couldn't reach the brake.

    So he unbuckled his seat belt, reached for the wheel and steered the car, which was still traveling fast, away from the oncoming traffic.

    The Volvo jumped over the curb and across the sidewalk, breaking an alloy wheel and blowing the right front tire.

    It ran over a low hedge of shrubs and into a concrete retaining wall.

    It hit the wall, and Daniel said he was just able to keep himself from flying forward. The air bags didn't deploy.

    He began slamming his fist against his father's chest, a move he'd seen on television shows such as "House."

    "I was yelling 'Dad, wake up! Dad, wake up!' " Daniel said.

    "I thought my dad was lying there dead."

    No one pulled over to help, they said. After about 30 seconds, Bill Marsh awoke with a gasp as his heart began beating again.

    "What the hell happened?" he said.

    He turned the key in the ignition, backed away from the wall and drove the last half-mile to the hospital with the blown tire flapping on the pavement.

    He and Daniel walked into the emergency room's waiting area. Bill Marsh was rushed into the ER with Daniel beside him.

    Daniel's mom, Sheri Hosking, came to get him while his dad was being treated.

    The nurses told Bill Marsh he died when his heart stopped, and Daniel brought him back.

    "If Daniel hadn't been with me, I would have died that day," he said.

    He looked at his son and said: "You did pretty damn good."

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