Feb. 24--EPPING -- Monday night in Epping started out as any other for the Nute High School boys basketball teams.
It didn't end that way.
In the third quarter of the junior varsity game, Nute freshman Rhys Daigle went into a cardiac event. Over the next 15 minutes, extraordinary lengths were taken to save his life. After he was stabilized, Daigle was driven by ambulance to Exeter Hospital and from there he was air-lifted to Boston Children's Hospital.
According to Nute junior varsity coach Mike Bridges, speaking on behalf of the Daigle family, Rhys underwent surgery Thursday. "A muscle had pinched an artery closed," Bridges said. "That caused the heart attack. The surgery was successful. A full recovery is likely and it looks like he'll be able to play sports again."
Bridges said there was nothing to indicate that Daigle was going to have a heart attack.
"At half time, Rhys was hooting and hollering in the locker room," Bridges said.
Bridges said at some point in the third quarter, one of the referees blew his whistle. "Rhys was white as a ghost and dizzy," Bridges said. "We sat him down with the trainer. He started to pass out, so they laid him on the floor. He went into convulsions."
Someone was told to call 911.
"It went from bad to worse," Bridges said.
An off-duty policeman and paramedic came out of the stands to help. Bridges said the paramedic tried to use a defibrillator to bring Rhys back, but it didn't work.
Derek Perry, an EMT with Boston-based Cataldo Ambulance service, gave him CPR to get his heart moving.
According to nh1.com, "Perry said he then began performing chest compressions and a second shock was administered, at which point the player began thrashing and working to breathe. Perry said the player's pulse returned in his wrist and neck and he was breathing on his own until EMS arrived."
"It was very traumatic," Bridges said. "I haven't been the same since."
Both the junior varsity and varsity games with Epping were canceled.
"All the players have been pretty shook up," said Bridges, whose son, Spencer, is a freshman on the JV team.
Bridges said it stirred a memory from three years ago when then Nute junior basketball player Angelo Loli suffered from a rare condition called AVM (cerebral arteriovenous malformation of the brain) that struck without warning in January of 2014. Angelo had three brain surgeries and is currently uses a wheelchair. His younger brother, Vasil, is a member of the Nute varsity team.
"It brought back some memories," Bridges said. "It was a very quiet bus ride home."
Bridges added that "Epping did a great job having trained people on hand," singling out the school's athletic trainer, Robin Hunt.
"My hat's off to them," he said.
Nute's plans to play in a JV tournament this weekend in Pittsfield have been canceled. "We decided we just couldn't do it," Bridges said.
There is a online gofundme site available to help the Daigles pay for medical expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/rhys-daigle-medical-fund.