Viera has moment of silence for lacrosse player recovering after cardiac arrest


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Members of the Viera High varsity boys lacrosse team held a moment of silence Tuesday night to honor a fellow student and JV player who is in the hospital after having a cardiac arrest Monday afternoon.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Owen Brackett said it was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do.

The Viera High senior was on the field Tuesday night at Hawk Stadium for his team’s boys lacrosse game against Satellite.

But his mind … it was in a Nemours Children’s Hospital room in Orlando, where his best friend is fighting for his life.

Just a day earlier, while going through JROTC practice, a Viera High sophomore went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. Viera High football coach Derek Smith and Senior Army JROTC instructor, retired Lt. Col. Tim Thomas, applied CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator to get Seeley’s heart started again.

“It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, walking on this field, knowing he’s played here,” Brackett said. “This is where him and me have had good moments as best friends, playing on the same team, making link-ups (for goals).

“You know at the end of the night, he’s your best friend. He’s the one who’s got your back, no matter what. … It’s tough.”

Although the student has been named by several other media outlets, the Viera Voice has chosen not to name him out of respect for his family.

A moment of silence was held before Tuesday night’s varsity game and players from both teams wore a No. 23 decal on their helmets to honor the student, who is on Viera’s JV lacrosse team. The Hawks won the game easily 24-3.

Thomas said Monday’s incident came during a light jog around the practice football fields at JROTC practice. The student, who was about three quarters through the last of his four laps when …

“I looked down and he was down on the ground,” Thomas said. “I looked and saw he wasn’t moving and I started sprinting over to him. I rolled him over and he was starting to turn purple and had a very light pulse.

“At that time, Coach Smith pulled up in a golf cart and both of us knew at that time we were looking at a life or death situation. We loaded him in the golf cart and transported him between Building 3 and 4.

“Someone had called on the AED pads to be waiting for us. We got there, we got him out of the vehicle and laid him on the ground. He was blue and no pulse. We started doing chest compressions in advance of getting the (AED) pads there.

“Once the pads arrived, I put one on, Coach Smith put one on, he adjusted the machine and within just seconds we … shocked him. After that, we continued with the chest compressions, did mouth-to-mouth and then after a while of that, we got a pulse.”

Smith later tweeted out a reminder to coaches throughout Brevard County to make sure they have an AED device at their practices because it can save lives.

Thomas said while he and Smith were working to save the student, they were both praying “that God would heal the young man and revive him for us.”

Brackett said Smith and Thomas are “heroes to me and heroes to his family” for their work to revive the student.

There was also good news to report Tuesday night.

“From what I’ve been told, he’s out of surgery and he’s doing a lot better,” Brackett said.

The Hawks (8-3), who have a big district road game against Cocoa Beach on Friday, scored early and often against the Scorpions. Matt Lynch scored 10 goals and Josh Gore had six.

“They really came together tonight. They really moved the ball,” assistant coach Bo Bartlett said. “No one was selfish. They were working hard to get teammates goals. It was a good team win.

“They rallied. They got positive news on (the student’s) health and that helps.”

On the same day of the medical emergency, Barlett said the team had a previously scheduled visit from former Navy SEAL Lt. Commander Amir Pishad.

“He came out to talk to the team and we invited him here tonight,” Bartlett said. “He really rallied them. That really got the kids fired up. He talked to them about what it was like to be a team. They got to ask a Navy SEAL questions and he shared with them some of the missions and some of the cool stuff. It was a good team bonding moment.”

Brackett, who plays on the Viera’s JV and varsity team, said the student was on his mind “every minute” of Tuesday’s game.

“He’s basically my brother,” Brackett said. “I’ve known him for nine years now. We’ve been through hell and back.”

While Tuesday’s game offered the Viera community a chance to come together in a show of support for the student and his family, that sentiment obviously would be welcomed over the length of the student’s recovery.

“He’s stable right now,” Thomas said. “He’s not out of harm’s way yet. But we’re confident. The doctors seem pretty enthused that he’s going to be OK. We encourage everybody to continue to pray for him.”