CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field during Monday night’s game sent shock waves across the nation.
In Champaign, a similar situation happened at a Fighting Illini football game against Michigan State more than 40 years ago.
On September 11, 1982, referee Rich McVay collapsed and died of a heart attack on the field. Former U of I student Michael Biehl attended every Illini sporting event with binoculars but even he couldn’t believe what we saw at Memorial Stadium.
“Fairly quickly, the stadium got totally silent,” said Biehl. “I was looking at Mr. McVay, specifically with my binoculars to see where he was going to place the ball and see if I agreed with the placement. He placed the ball. He stood up and then he fell like a plank.”
Biehl wasn’t the only one watching. Bob Apperson was a former usher supervisor at Memorial Stadium for more than 25 years. He said Hamiln’s fall reminded him of what he saw in 1982.
“It’s something you’ve never seen before and it’s a bad experience in that respect,” Apperson said.
Dr. Barry Clemson with OSF said learning skills like CPR are a first step to being prepared and educated for emergencies like cardiac arrest or a heart attack.
“It’s very easy to learn and it’s very accessible to learn how to do it,” said Clemson, a cardiology specialist. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of communities used this as an example do those types of programs.”