Bystanders honored for using CPR, saving man’s life after he collapsed at Ann Arbor park

‘There’s a lot of times I’ve been exercising by myself, and if it would have happened then, I wouldn’t be here today’

Rescuers were honored Thursday for saving a man's life using CPR in Ann Arbor. His life was saved by a pair of bystanders who knew just what to do when he fell into cardiac arrest.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Jerry Parris’ life was saved by a pair of bystanders who knew just what to do when he fell into cardiac arrest. The two men and first responders who rescued Parris were recognized during Thursday’s event.

It happened on April 10, 2022, around 2:45 p.m. Parris was at Olson Park in Ann Arbor, joining his church’s Pathfinders Club members, when he collapsed. Now, Parris considers the people who helped him out more than just his friends.

“They’re my heroes,” said Parris.

During the 15 days Parris spent in the hospital, he had four stints in his heart. Last week he wrapped up months of rehab. After all, Parris can’t help but smile and be thankful for the people who stepped up to help.

“There’s a lot of times I’ve been exercising by myself, and if it would have happened then, I wouldn’t be here today,” Parris said.

Parris doesn’t remember much from that day.

Friends from his church said they were in the middle of a break between ultimate frisbee games when Parris collapsed. Everyone immediately took action, and Daniel Mendez called 911 while David Canada started CPR on Paris.

Canada said that moment is why he works hard to keep up with his CPR training.

“I had done it, year after year, after year,” said Canada. “But just a couple of weeks prior, we had gone through a class.”

While Mendez was on the phone, the dispatcher advised someone should relieve Canada and continue CPR. That’s when Mendez stepped in, but he says everything was happening so quickly that at one point, he froze.

“I couldn’t remember how to put my hands together,” said Mendez. “It took like, two or three seconds trying to figure that out. And finally, it dawned on me; I was like, ‘Okay, this is the right position.’”

It was an intense 10 minutes, but eventually, they would see the color return to Parris’ face. First responders arrived shortly after.

Although Parris is doing well today, Mendez says the experience is a reminder of how vital CPR training is and revisiting that training regularly.

“I have to always be prepared because you could be the only person they have,” Mendez said. “And it’s so crazy to think that, and yet it’s so exciting to think that you can have a part in somebody’s miracle like in the case of Jerry.”

Thursday, Ann Arbor Fire Department and SaveMIHeart recognized more than just Canada and Mendez. Lily Shaffer, a child bystander, 911 dispatcher Dominic Consiglio, AAPD Officer Stephanie Kjos-Warner, AAFD acting Lt. George Allard, AAFD Driver Matt Francis, AAFD Firefighter Taylor Hansen, paramedic James Brown and paramedic Katelyn Vesely in their part in saving Parris’ life.


About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.