BOY SCOUTS GET LES­SON IN SAV­ING A MAN’S LIFE

Quick think­ing was key when leader ex­pe­ri­enced a heart at­tack while sail­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kristin Fi­nan kfi­nan@states­man.com

What would you do if you found your­self with your fa­ther’s life in your hands?

That was the sit­u­a­tion 14-yearold Tex “T” Mitchell IV faced one af­ter­noon while sail­ing on Lake Bel­ton with three of his friends un­der the guid­ance of his dad.

“My dad started lay­ing down and said he couldn’t re­ally breathe,” T said. “We didn’t know what was go­ing on.”

His dad, Tex Mitchell, leader of Boy Scout Troop 410, had in­vited some boys in the troop, most of whom had lit­tle prior sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, out on the lake that day last sum­mer.

“I had for­got­ten my hat and I didn’t think it af­fected me that much, but I didn’t know what else to blame it on,” said Mitchell, who ini­tially thought he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an asthma at­tack or heat ex­haus­tion. In re­al­ity, he was hav­ing a heart at­tack.

“As I be­came more and more in­ca­pac­i­tated,” he said, “the boys re­ally had to take com­mand of the ves­sel and get us back.”

Time was ticking, and ev­ery sec­ond counted. What should they do?

T, who had started tak­ing sail­ing classes with his dad two years be­fore, was the only one with enough ex­pe­ri­ence to take the boat back to the ma­rina. But he had never done it on his own be­fore. While he nav­i­gated the boat, friends Jake Yepez and Aaron Walls per­formed first aid on Mitchell, us­ing ice and wa­ter bot­tles from the cooler in hopes of low­er­ing his tem­per­a­ture. They also asked him ques­tions to keep him en­gaged.

“For the ques­tions, it was mostly where were you born, what’s the fun­ni­est thing that ever hap­pened to you as a child. … I was try­ing to make sure that he didn’t go un­con­scious,” Yepez said. “When we were about to get into the ma­rina he seemed to be talk­ing much less.”

T got the boat into the ma­rina at the Lake Bel­ton Yacht Club on his first try and called 911. Yepez and Walls con­tin­ued first aid, while friend Alex Graves ran in­side to tell the em­ploy­ees what was hap­pen­ing. Within min­utes, the whole group was in the back of an am­bu­lance on the way to the hospi­tal.

When they ar­rived, Mitchell had two stents im­planted in his car­diac ar­ter­ies.

“I am su­per proud of them and su­per thank­ful, too,” Mitchell said. “They did a fan­tas­tic job. The doc­tors were very clear that the speed with which I ar­rived at the hospi­tal was crit­i­cal to my re­ally fan­tas­ti­cal, re­mark­able re­cov­ery.”

He also be­lieves scout­ing played a large role in the boys’ abil­ity to re­act quickly in a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion.

“I credit the scout­ing pro­gram for re­ally teach­ing them the lead­er­ship qual­i­ties and brav­ery to step up when a sit­u­a­tion arises that re­quires them to act with author­ity,” he said. “I re­ally credit the scout­ing pro­gram for my­self be­ing alive to­day.”

But even though in re­cent months the boys have re­ceived statewide at­ten­tion and been be­stowed mul­ti­ple honors for their hero­ism, they re­main mod­est.

‘I credit the scout­ing pro­gram for re­ally teach­ing them the lead­er­ship qual­i­ties and brav­ery to step up when a sit­u­a­tion arises that re­quires them to act with author­ity.’ Tex Mitchell

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Graves said. “I just am for­tu­nate to be able to have the op­por­tu­nity to go sail­ing. I just felt re­ally good about him get­ting a full re­cov­ery, be­cause I know how much it would have hurt T if he hadn’t had a full re­cov­ery, that be­ing his dad.”

T, who de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence of sav­ing his dad’s life as “pretty scary,” said he’s glad that he and his dad learned to sail to­gether — and will con­tinue to sail to­gether.

“You have re­ally good op­por­tu­ni­ties if you know how to sail,” T said. “If your friend ever takes you sail­ing and some­thing bad hap­pens, you know how to take con­trol.”

Now that he’s had some time to re­flect on all that’s hap­pened, his dad, too, is grate­ful for his son’s abil­ity to take con­trol.

“I al­ways knew my son was a hero,” Mitchell said. “I just didn’t know he was go­ing to be my hero.”

RI­CARDO B. BRAZZ­IELL/AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN PHOTOS

From left to right, Tex “T” Mitchell IV, Alex Graves and Jake Yepez, far right, all stu­dents at La­mar Mid­dle School, pose with scout leader Tex Mitchell.

Scout leader Tex Mitchell smiles as he talks about how mem­bers of his troop saved his life when he was hav­ing a heart at­tack.

RI­CARDO B. BRAZZ­IELL/AMERICANSTATESMAN

From left, Tex “T” Mitchell IV, Alex Graves and Jake Yepez, far right, all stu­dents at La­mar Mid­dle School, pose with scout leader Tex Mitchell.

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