Posted on 12/03/2021
Chadd Drott and Andy Abendschein
Chadd Drott and Andy Abendschein

Survivor: Andy Abendschein

Date of Event:

Location of Event: Rocky Mountain National Park

Chadd Drott

On June 8, 2021, I was riding my bicycle alone in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) near Grand Lake in Colorado. I had already ridden about one and a half hours when the world disappeared. At about 21 miles per hour, I had a heart attack and crashed my bicycle in a completely uncontrolled manner. 

Fortunately, some park visitors who were viewing wildlife nearby noticed me lying in the road, motionless. One of them was a former firefighter who now conducts wildlife viewing tours in RMNP. He saw that I was already turning blue and that my eyes were lifeless. Not finding a pulse, he began chest compression CPR. 

Other bystanders also stepped up to offer aid to a stranger. Someone called 911. Another covered me with a blanket, while others shielded me from the sun by holding up another blanket. Yet another went to her car to get an oxygen tank and a spare cannula that she had for her mother. After 150 chest compressions I started to breath on my own and responded (sort of) to questions. 

Soon, an ambulance with paramedics from the Grand Lake Fire Department arrived to take over emergency care. I was transported to Middle Park Health Hospital where the extent of my injuries were explored. By now I was starting to feel a little more ‘myself’ and heard the distinctive ring of my cell phone. It was brought to me so that I could unlock it and identify my wife’s phone number. 

She was called and came to the hospital just in time to learn that they suspected that I had experienced a heart attack. I also suffered a broken left scapula, nasty road rash on my left shoulder, left knee, and left elbow. I also had some lite scrapes on my face, a hole in my left elbow, and a sore neck. 

Fortunately, the helmet I was wearing (now cracked) saved my head from any serious damage. I was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Denver where I received a stent. 

Meanwhile, my wife retrieved my bicycle and spoke with one of the park rangers who told her that the former firefighter who administered CPR to me was named Chadd Drott. The ranger also provided his phone number. 

Two days later I was released from the hospital feeling rather sore, but otherwise in fairly good shape. That afternoon I called Chadd and left a message on his phone that I would like to meet him if he was interested. Chadd called a little while later and said that he was interested in meeting me too, but that it would be quite late before he could come for a visit. I didn’t care, I would wait as late as it took to meet him. He showed up after midnight (I think) and told me what happened to me after they found me in the road, before the paramedics arrived.

Nominated by Andy Abendschein