Local man survives heart attack during River Run

Published On: Mar 11 2013 09:28:09 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2013 07:29:44 AM EDT

VIDEO: It's a 15K that attracts runners to Jacksonville from around the nation... and beyond. But for one of the thousands who ran this year's Gate River Run, it turned into a run for his life.


Stephen Michael is what is known as a River Run, "streaker." He's run Jacksonville's infamous road race every year since it's inception 36 years ago.

Saturday's River Run was different for the 58-year-old. He said when he was running down Hendricks Avenue, he felt that something wasn't right.

"We're pumping the crowds up, you know I always like to do that kind of stuff and the next thing I know I had that kind of buzzed feeling like you're going to faint," said Michael. "And it was instantaneous, you know I went to go like the curb and that's it, I was out, I was gone."

Michael was having a heart attack and collapsed to the ground. The crowd watching the race started screaming, which prompted a pair of firefighters who were nearby running the race to rush in and help Michael.

"It shows the true human spirit of people to help and I'm very grateful," he said.

Within seconds, a JFRD bicycle crew and Engine 13 showed up.

"It was like an orchestrated group of angels, of people, orchestrated," said Michael. "OK, we're going to let this happen, now! I mean I wouldn't have survived it."

Thanks to the heroes who happened to be in the right place to help Michael, he did survive .

Michael told Channel 4 he's not done running, either. He plans on finishing the 2013 River Run he started and he'll be ready for 2014.

"I'm not sure what happened to me, I just know I got another chance," said Michael.


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