15:55 PM

USTPD Sergeant David Gonzalez Saves a Life, Reunites with Person He Helps Rescue

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Officer David Gonzalez reunites with runner Gene Velasquez whose life he helped save.by administering CPR.Gene Velasquez, 55, did not know University of St. Thomas-Houston Police Department Sergeant David Gonzalez. But it was fortuitous that their paths crossed on a running trail in Memorial Park last June. Gonzalez was out for his daily jog and discovered Velasquez face down on the trail. Springing into action, Gonzalez rolled him over, checked his pulse and noticed he wasn’t breathing. He began to administer CPR to the lifeless man, a skill he had learned in police officer training.

After the first nine minutes of chest compressions, two more good Samaritan runners – Jack Perini and Eric McClendon took over CPR, while bystander Nick Holroyd called 911. EMS firemen arrived, used the compression paddles and whisked Velasquez off to Memorial Hermann hospital. Before everyone left, one of the rescuers had the wherewithal to collected names and phone numbers of those who came to Velasquez’s aid.

And life went on, with no information about whether the man they rescued had lived. Once recovered, Velasquez returned to the park several days a week to see if he could find those who saved his life.

Then, a happy coincidence happened. McClendon was scrolling the internet and came upon the YouTube video featuring Channel 11 reporter Stephanie Whitefield, who had told the story of Velasquez looking for his good Samaritans. McClendon reached out to Whitfield to let her know he had contact information for the rescuers and that he was the person who had called 911.

Officer Gonzalez interview with Channel 11 reporter Stephanie Whitfield at the reunion of Good Samaritans and the runner they helped save in Memorial Park.Whitefield arranged an emotional reunion for Velasquez in Memorial Park this week, bringing her Channel 11 videographer to capture the special reunion of the heroes and the man they saved. Watch the clip.

Last June, Velasquez did not know he had a blocked artery which would lead to a major heart attack on that fateful day. But what he knows is that he lived because of the CPR given to him by strangers. Greeting the Good Samaritans were Velasquez and three of his grateful siblings, sisters Mimi Velasquez and Lisa Lopez and brother David Velasquez.

Ever so humble, USTPD Officer Gonzalez, who was the first responder, told Velasquez his part of the story of how they were strangers and are now connected.  The other rescuers recalled that day too, so Velasquez would know what happened.

Afterwards, they shook hands, took photos and exchanged phone numbers. “I am happy he is well,” Gonzalez said, “I will keep in touch with him and maybe we will become friends. That day impacted me.  I had never saved a life before. I am glad I was on that trail, and I was trained in CPR.”

As the reunion ends, McClendon put his arm around Velasquez’s shoulder and says, “God is good, man.”