CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Basketball player saves referee who collapsed during game

Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 2:30 PM CDT
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JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (CNN) - Quick action on a basketball court is common, but in the case of an incident in New York, a “fast break” by one player saved the life of a referee who suffered a major heart attack and passed out during a game.

Myles Copeland is exactly the kind of teammate you want. While his semi-pro basketball teams won the game, it was Copeland that made a lifesaving play.

When referee John Sculli collapsed during a game two months ago, footage of the game shows the player didn’t miss a beat.

“It was kind of a shock, I’ve never seen anyone fall out and collapse like that,” Copeland said.

Copeland immediately starts giving CPR and continued compressions for fourteen minutes until an ambulance arrives.

“I always keep hope till the last minute,” Copeland said. “It was honestly kind of divine … everything aligned perfectly. The fact that I was there, the fact that I was able to respond so quick. And I kind just felt something take over my body.”

It might have been his training kicking in, since Copeland’s used to answering the call of duty as a firefighter with the Toledo Fire Department.

At the last minute, he switched shifts to make it to the playoff game earlier this summer

“Obviously, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here,” Sculli, said.

It was a lucky break for Sculli, who beat some incredible odds, because of the assist.

He said the odds of surviving a major heart attack like he did are 1%.

“Without a doubt, without him, I don’t survive this. No question,” he said.

Following a successful quadruple bypass surgery, Sculli is spending some time with his fiancée, slowing down and recovering, but says he’ll be back on the court reffing games again soon.

A few days ago, he headed back to the gymnasium where it all happened to meet Copeland again.

“We just gave a big hug with each other, so we didn’t even say much. We just had to hug it out,” Copeland said.

Sculli was a bit overwhelmed, saying that he was tearful as they reunited.

“I told him he’s my hero,” he said.

Now that Sculli is back on his feet, his only regret is missing the game’s final buzzer.

“I woke up, my eyes fluttered, according to Myles,” Sculli said about the incident. “He said that I said to him, ‘Let’s go. We got to finish this game.’”

Now the referee and player, whose paths crossed by the luck of the draw that day, are friends for life.

“Oh yeah, oh there’s no describing the feeling we feel,” Copeland said.

The two said they still stay in touch.

“I’ve told you this on the phone. I love you already,” Sculli said to Copeland.

After reviewing the tape, Copeland said he was just doing his job that day.

“I kind of critiqued myself,” he said. “I thought I did a good job. Definitely could have reacted a little bit faster ... I thought I was quick enough.”

It was an all-star moment for a man making a life and a career out of helping others.

“I start paramedic school in January to further advance my career and hopefully be able to do more interventions,” he said. “So, save more lives.”

Copeland said it was his first season with the basketball league.

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