By Indianapolis WTHR Channel 13 NBC Reporter Emily Longnecker
INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Two months ago, three men from different parts of the state were complete strangers. Wednesday, they walked around the American Legion Mall in downtown Indianapolis.
They hadn't met until this past June, but now they share a bond, an understanding some their age may not yet realize - that life can change in an instant.
"I'm thankful that I get to wake up everyday and go see my friends and go to school," said 18-year-old Cole Walker from Greentown in Howard County.
That might not even be the case, though, if Cole had never met 17-year-old Josh Walston and and 17-year-old Sean Bacha.
"Without them, I wouldn't be sitting here today," said Cole of the other teens.
Nothing about their meeting at Hoosier Boys State, a weeklong American Legion conference this past June to study government, seemed out of the ordinary.
That all changed during a softball game on the third day of the conference.
"We were coming into the dugout and I told my counselor that I felt dizzy and I just collapsed," said Cole, who said he doesn't even remember the moments before he lost consciousness.
"I honestly just thought he was passing out because he was dehydrated because it was hot, but in a few seconds it was pretty evident that wasn't the case," said Josh Walston, who was standing behind Cole when he went down.
They didn't know it at the time, but Cole was in sudden cardiac arrest, a condition he would later learn from doctor 90 percent of people don't survive.
"I thought if we don't do anything, this kids going to die," said 17-year-old Sean Bacha, who was also standing there and saw Cole collapse.
"I just told everybody to stand back and Sean said he was a lifeguard, so I just asked for his help," said Josh.
Sean, who has worked as a lifeguard for the past two years, made sure there was nothing in Cole's mouth or throat blocking his airway.
Both teens tried to check for a pulse on Cole.
"He started to turn blue," said Sean.
Josh, who is a cadet on his local fire department in Versailles, started CPR.
"Your hands work faster than your mind. You just do what you're trained to do," said Josh.
When EMTs got there, Josh and Sean had been working on Cole to try and revive him.
"They were surprised that Cole was in as good as shape that he was in for the severity of his condition," said Scott Weyler, the associate director for Hoosier Boys State. "Most folks don't survive this.
Cole spent the next ten days in the hospital recovering. He has an internal defibrillator now, in case his heart stops again.
"If my heart stops again, then it will shock me back. It will start it again," Cole explained.
Doctors still aren't sure why Cole's heart stopped in the first place, but the soccer forward hopes to be back on the field soon.
"I'm just going to live a normal life, the life I would have lived before," said Cole.
A life for which, Cole knows, he has two people his own age to thank.
"I definitely feel like this is an orchestrated event," Cole said. "I feel like I was put in the right place at the right time and I feel like God really used Josh and Sean to save my life."
A life, hardly yet lived, Cole realizes is precious and not to be taken for granted.
"There is a purpose for my life and I'm going to try and fulfill that," said Cole.
Sean and Josh are more than happy to have been a part of why that will be possible.
"It's cool to think now he's going to get to graduate and go off and do whatever he wants to do, have a family or whatever he wants because we were in the right place, " said Josh. "That's a cool feeling."
"I don't know how to thank them," said Cole. "I really can't describe it in words...I wouldn't have put this in the plan, but I guess His plan is greater than mine."
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