A Holbrook man who collapsed with a heart attack at an Orlando airport on Friday reunited with the three fellow Long Islanders who he says saved his life.
Two weeks after suffering a heart attack on April 26, Scott Williams, 54, got to thank his “three angels” during an arranged meeting at the Long Island Rail Road’s Ronkonkoma station Friday. The trio included two MTA Police officers — both of whom were originally booked on different flights than Williams — and a medical doctor.
“I’m thankful they were there, they had the training, and they had the care to help a stranger,” Williams said.
A father of three, Williams was about to board a Frontier Airlines flight to Long Island MacArthur Airport, on his way back from traveling alone on business, when “things just got a little fuzzy.”
Dehydrated, under stress, and later diagnosed with the flu, Williams collapsed.
“I just went down,” said Williams, who works as chief financial officer for the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk. “I don’t remember falling or losing consciousness. My cardiologist told me that’s when my heart just stopped.”
Unbeknownst to each other, MTA Police Officer Jason Papa and MTA Police Sgt. David Bergstein — colleagues for years — were waiting for the same flight as Williams, both returning from family trips. Papa was the first to respond.
“I checked for a pulse, and there was no pulse. So I started CPR. And, as I’m in compressions, I hear above me, ‘Jay, when you need a break, let me know,’ ” recalled Papa, 34, of Sayville. “That’s when I looked up and saw Dave. And I’m like, ‘Oh, hi Dave.’ ”
Bergstein, who completed his CPR training two weeks earlier, assisted Papa, told onlookers to call 911, and requested an automatic external defibrillator.
Dr. Jason Kreiner, 39, of Dix Hills, an anesthesiologist with NYU Langone Health, was also returning from a family vacation on the same flight, and soon joined the two cops in administering medical care to Williams.
The three men took turns performing chest compressions on Williams, who had previous cardiac issues, and used the AED on him. After one shock, and another round of compressions, Williams came to, the men said.
“I never would have expected to do anything like this outside of a hospital,” Kreiner said. “Fortunately, we were surrounded by well-trained officers, and we worked together. And we were able to have, obviously, a successful outcome.”
Paramedics later arrived and took Williams to a hospital for treatment. He is set to undergo open-heart surgery later this month.
“When I came to, the paramedics that were there told me that if it wasn’t for these three, I wouldn’t have made it,” Williams said.
After various attempts by the people involved to get in touch with one another, the MTA on Friday organized the reunion.
"It means a lot to me," Papa said, upon seeing Williams and his three boys. "He's not just a patient. He's a person. He has a life. He has a family. It's humbling."
Williams did his best to express his gratitude to the three men. He offered to mow their lawns and wash their cars. His sons handed out several gift bags to their dad’s heroes.
“These are just small things,” Williams said as the gifts were distributed.
“You don’t have to thank us,” said Bergstein, 39, of Ronkonkoma. “You being here is more than enough.”