Lacrosse player's near-death experience on the field sparks change

A hit to the chest nearly cost a lacrosse player his life.


During a lacrosse game, Peter Laake was struck right in the chest by a routine shot from the opposing team.


"I remember getting hit. And then I remember looking to where the ball was at the moment because the ball had bounced back into his stick, and he passed it somewhere," Laake said. "So I remember looking for the ball, and then I just remember getting very dizzy and blacking out. And then I remember waking up."

But when he hit the ground and was unresponsive, it was clear something was very wrong.

"When I came up to him I tried to determine his alertness and awareness and level of consciousness... he wasn't responding to anything that I was asking for," said Loyola Blakefield trainer Jeremy Parr. "He didn't appear to be breathing on his own. It was more like a gasping reflex. And then I couldn't find a pulse."

The athlete’s mother, Carron Laake, said, "I just kept thinking, he'll be fine. And then, you know, 10 seconds later, I was in a complete frenzy that he's not going to make it."

On-site doctors began chest compressions as part of an existing action plan. When that didn’t work, they turned to an automated external defibrillator (AED) to reset Peter Laake’s heart. And it worked.

"I heard voices for a couple seconds, and my eyes wouldn't open for a couple seconds," he said. "But when my eyes did open, I remember seeing seven to eight people just in a circle around me. So, pretty crazy."

It was later determined that what happened was the result of a rare cardiac emergency, which caused Laake’s heart to beat at an irregular rhythm.

"It was a perfect storm for it to happen," Parr said. "It was a perfect response from everyone and just a great group effort to get, to have Peter come back."

Dr. Richard Hinton of MedStar Health said cases like this are "infrequent" but "catastrophic," particularly if they hadn’t had medical professionals and the AED on standby.

USA Lacrosse was determined to keep incidents like this from happening again, announcing plans to make chest protectors mandatory for all players, not just for goalies.

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