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High school coaches’ quick actions save dying journalist on football field

COMANCHE, Okla. -- High school football coaches in Oklahoma saved a man's life when he collapsed with a heart attack - nearly dying on the field.

It happened two weeks ago when Steven Bolton, the publisher for The Comanche Times, was taking photos for the Comanche High School football team.

"Everything was fine," Coach Montie Blair told KFOR, "and he went downhill in a matter of seconds."

Bolton was taking the photo of the whole team that would run in the paper, the last shot of the day.

"All of a sudden I just felt this terrible pain that I had never felt," Steve said. "Nothing like and I knew." He called his wife, middle school teacher Kelli, over to him. "I looked over at Kelli and I knew. I didn`t think I`d get to hug her one more time."

"Right when I got to him he fell to his knees," Kelli Bolton said.

The coaches and the team watched as it happened, and Coach Blair and Coach Casy Rowell rushed to his side. Blair, a fire department veteran, started yelling orders for people to get life-saving equipment, like a mask for mouth-to-mouth CPR and an AED.

"I look up to him a lot and he took control," Rowell said.

For nearly 20 terrifying minutes, they didn't know if he would make it.

"He was blue, and we could tell that he wasn`t breathing. I could tell he didn`t have a pulse," Rowell said. "So yeah, we were definitely really worried. I didn`t know what to think so we just kept going."

They refused to give up.

"Montie would not stop," Kelli said. "He was hollering at him, 'Come on, Steve! Come on, Steve! Stay with us!'"

Meanwhile, she, the team, other coaches, and parents were doing what they could to help.

"There was a lot of people praying," Kelli said.

Once the coaches started using the automated electronic defibrillator, or AED, on Steve he started showing signs of life.

"He took a gasp of air, went to breathing, started getting some color back," Blair said.

That's when the ambulance finally arrived. But what took place in that half-hour, Steve calls a miracle.

"I just see those coaches and all those people praying, and I think of that coach as a young boy," Steve said, thinking of Coach Blair. "I was on the sideline and covered him as a high school football player, and then him to come back as a coach and save my life."

Steve had to have two stents put in, but he said he'll happily take the current pain and soreness over the alternative. Now he's ready to continue supporting the team and the town that saved him.

"We`re forever linked. You just don`t share that moment," Steve said. "Those people praying for me were just as much a part of this as anything else."