Austin Boy Scouts get firsthand lesson in saving a man’s life

Quick thinking was key when leader experienced a heart attack while sailing.


Highlights

Scouts and leader were sailing when crisis hit.

Four Scouts take action when adult falls ill.

What would you do if you found yourself with your father’s life in your hands?

That was the situation 14-year-old Tex “T” Mitchell IV faced one afternoon while sailing on Lake Belton with three of his friends under the guidance of his dad.

“My dad started laying down and said he couldn’t really breathe,” T said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”

His dad, Tex Mitchell, leader of Boy Scout Troop 410, had invited some boys in the troop, most of whom had little prior sailing experience, out on the lake that day last summer.

“I had forgotten my hat and I didn’t think it affected me that much, but I didn’t know what else to blame it on,” said Mitchell, who initially thought he was experiencing an asthma attack or heat exhaustion. In reality, he was having a heart attack.

“As I became more and more incapacitated,” he said, “the boys really had to take command of the vessel and get us back.”

Time was ticking, and every second counted. What should they do?

T, who had started taking sailing classes with his dad two years before, was the only one with enough experience to take the boat back to the marina. But he had never done it on his own before. While he navigated the boat, friends Jake Yepez and Aaron Walls performed first aid on Mitchell, using ice and water bottles from the cooler in hopes of lowering his temperature. They also asked him questions to keep him engaged.

“For the questions, it was mostly where were you born, what’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you as a child. … I was trying to make sure that he didn’t go unconscious,” Yepez said. “When we were about to get into the marina he seemed to be talking much less.”

T got the boat into the marina at the Lake Belton Yacht Club on his first try and called 911. Yepez and Walls continued first aid, while friend Alex Graves ran inside to tell the employees what was happening. Within minutes, the whole group was in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

When they arrived, Mitchell had two stents implanted in his cardiac arteries.

“I am super proud of them and super thankful, too,” Mitchell said. “They did a fantastic job. The doctors were very clear that the speed with which I arrived at the hospital was critical to my really fantastical, remarkable recovery.”

He also believes scouting played a large role in the boys’ ability to react quickly in a stressful situation.

“I credit the scouting program for really teaching them the leadership qualities and bravery to step up when a situation arises that requires them to act with authority,” he said. “I really credit the scouting program for myself being alive today.”

But even though in recent months the boys have received statewide attention and been bestowed multiple honors for their heroism, they remain modest.

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Graves said. “I just am fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to go sailing. I just felt really good about him getting a full recovery, because I know how much it would have hurt T if he hadn’t had a full recovery, that being his dad.”

T, who described the experience of saving his dad’s life as “pretty scary,” said he’s glad that he and his dad learned to sail together — and will continue to sail together.

“You have really good opportunities if you know how to sail,” T said. “If your friend ever takes you sailing and something bad happens, you know how to take control.”

Now that he’s had some time to reflect on all that’s happened, his dad, too, is grateful for his son’s ability to take control.

“I always knew my son was a hero,” Mitchell said. “I just didn’t know he was going to be my hero.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

10 ways your décor can appeal to the senses

Homes can have a scent. Sometimes the scent is intentional. In other instances, scents can attract or repel. Appealing to the senses can be something easily achieved, especially for those looking to do so in a natural or organic way. Looking for ways to infuse scents into your home? Here are some top Design Recipes tips. 1. Consider herbs. From sage...
Bolivian Sunset is dazzling shady groundcover
Bolivian Sunset is dazzling shady groundcover

Shady groundcovers that bloom are much sought after in the gardening world, and Bolivian Sunset holds one of the most beautiful opportunities. The name itself conjures up visions of exotic colors. Bolivian Sunset is known botanically as Seemannia sylvatica and indeed is native to Bolivia and Peru. It also has another common name and that is hardy gloxinia...
Filling a nest that was a little too empty
Filling a nest that was a little too empty

NORMANDY PARK, Wash. — There was just one problem with the brand-new, wide-open layout of Kay and Bob Comiskey’s Normandy Park home: It was really open. “We remodeled and didn’t have money for furniture,” says Kay. “We lived for three years with almost nothing. We had one sectional we’d move from room to room...
Quick home maintenance tasks now can prevent crises later

Although October can still be flip-flops-and-shorts weather, there are a number of fall maintenance tasks to undertake, no matter what the temperature gauge says. We asked Lucinda Hoe, field services director of the West region for Associa OnCall, for some tips to keep a home as functional as possible. The company offers maintenance services, as well...
How to resolve conflict in cactus, succulent gardens
How to resolve conflict in cactus, succulent gardens

Ordinary plants yield their space while cacti and succulents resort to violence to keep competitors at bay. Drought-resistant species take no prisoners and use their armor to claim earth and its treasure: water. Unless you control the proximity of this botanical weaponry, you will sustain casualties out there as plants you love and paid dearly for...
More Stories