SMITHFIELD, Utah — Last December, while shopping at Lee’s Marketplace, 55-year-old Bob Lewis sustained a heart attack. His seemingly unsuspecting savior was 17-year-old Ryan Zook.
“I wasn’t really thinking,” Zook said. “It was like, ‘OK, something is wrong. Do something.’”
Lewis had just arrived at checkout and was paying for his items when he collapsed. While concerned onlookers gathered to see what was wrong, it was Zook who felt for a pulse and started CPR when he couldn’t detect one. Utilizing skills he learned from the Boy Scouts of America, Zook was able to help keep Lewis alive until first responders arrived.
“I can remember up to the pharmacy. I don’t remember turning and walking down the aisle and checking out,” Lewis said. “I felt normal. No elephant on the chest, no achy arms, nothing. I had zero warning.”
Lewis noted his family does have a history of heart attacks and that he was acting strange that night. He interrupted a movie to visit the grocery store for eggnog, something he doesn’t indulge in that often.
“To be in that exact spot where Ryan was at that exact moment — I do think it’s divine intervention. I’m 100 percent convinced of that,” Lewis said.
Lewis was taken to the intensive care unit where doctors told him that if he hadn’t been at that place at that time, he would have died.
“He did the right thing, and because he did the right thing I’m here with my friends and family today,” he said.
For Zook, it was a normal day at work. He had just come back from lunch and was helping another customer when he heard a loud crash. When Zook came over and realized Lewis was unconscious, he sprung into action.
“At that point, my mind was racing a million miles per hour, wondering what do I do,” he said. “Part of me was calm that I knew what to do and I was already doing all the right steps.”
Nearby customers assisted Zook in keeping Lewis’s head up while his coworkers followed his lead and went to call 911. Zook didn’t stop until the paramedics arrived.
Wade Denniston, a fellow store employee, witnessed Zook’s heroic deed.
“Ryan was a hero and he did everything right,” he said. “It was amazing to see how cool, calm and collected he was.”
Denniston, along with two assistant managers and a few of Zook’s coworkers, took him aside so he could catch his breath.
“I was going into shock from what happened,” Zook said. “I laid down for about 10 minutes until I heard the paramedics got a pulse on him.”
Soon after Lewis got out of the hospital, he and his family visited Zook during work to thank him. They gave him a gift basket as well as financial aid for his upcoming mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We told him thank you and that we appreciate a young man who has morals and values and wants to learn and be a productive member of our community,” Lewis said. “I’m proud of Ryan. He’s a good young man.”
For a while, Zook said that many people, including his coworkers, family and classmates, were calling him a hero. The Young Men program in his LDS ward are even planning a CPR training at Bridgerland Tech in a couple of weeks.
“Ryan has always been a leader,” said David Zook, Ryan’s father and Cache County executive. “He thinks about others and how he can help and he’s never afraid to do what needs to be done.”
Things have since calmed down, but Ryan stated he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
“I feel like I was there for a reason. It was in my nature; I didn’t have to think about it,” he said.