Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Pedro Colon performed CPR chest compressions on David Nieves when the student experienced a seizure on Monday.
David Nieves was feeling perfectly normal on Monday when he went to the Strawberry Crest High School cafeteria to get some lunch. In what seemed like a split second later, he realized he was getting in an ambulance with no idea why.
“I’m eating lunch and everything’s fine,” Nieves, 18, said. “Next thing you know, I’m being strolled into the ambulance and trying to figure out what is happening. I don’t remember anything in between the events of what happened.”
As quick as that transition seemed for him, a school resource deputy’s actions were, thankfully, even quicker.
Deputy Pedro Colon of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, an SRD of 12 years who just started working at Crest this school year, was alerted to Nieves’ condition and rushed over to him in the cafeteria.
“The principal and assistant principal were rendering aid,” Colon said. “I walked over and checked on the student, noticed that he had stopped breathing and started CPR chest compressions until he started breathing on his own.”
Principal Christie Raburn said a student who saw Nieves’ seizure ran over to get her and assistant principal Trent Hobbs. The two started rendering aid and called for Colon’s help. Raburn and Hobbs went through the first two phases of the ABC method — airway and breathing — and Colon wasted no time performing the compressions.
“We feel great that it actually worked out,” Raburn said. “Obviously any time you have a happy ending, it’s a good situation. You’re terrified in the moment… for everything to work out, it’s a blessing.”
The incident was captured on Colon’s body-worn camera and HCSO released the video on its YouTube channel. Nieves said Thursday he was still trying to process what happened and what he saw in the video. He said he felt fine that day before the seizure and that, other than undergoing open heart surgery when he was three years old, he hasn’t had any major health issues.
“I’m like, wow, that actually happened,” Nieves said. “I’ve never had anything like that happen before to me in my life. It’s a first for me. It’s a lot to take in… I didn’t think anything like that could happen to me.”
Colon, who had just greeted Nieves in the cafeteria “just 10 minutes earlier” and recognized him, said he didn’t have time to think about what was happening in the moment but was glad Nieves was able to get medical attention almost immediately.
“I had a big feeling of relief that the worst was over at this point. He’s awake, he’s breathing on his own,” Colon said. “At that point we continued to render aid until EMS could arrive and they were able to get him to the hospital. I do feel proud. I’m happy that I was here at the right time, in the right place, happy to have the training that I had in order to render aid that he needed at that time and I’m thankful that he’s here with us today. I was relieved to see him doing much better, back to his normal self.”
Both he and Raburn called Colon a hero for his actions, and Nieves got to chat with Colon on Thursday morning during his first day back at school. The two exchanged a few fist bumps and Nieves expressed his gratitude for the deputy’s rapid response.
“I thank him for saving my life,” Nieves said. “I see him as a hero.”