It may not be enough to just call Gary Haworth lucky.
On August 20, Haworth was driving to his St. Peters home after a day working at a Commerce Bank call center in Creve Coeur, talking to his wife Laurie about making a stop at the grocery store on the way.
The line went dead as Gary was on the Page Avenue extension in St. Charles. Laurie thought he had dropped the phone, but couldn't reach him via OnStar either. Instead she got another call later, telling her that he'd been in a car accident.
Gary had suffered a heart attack.
But thanks to the incredible fortune of having the right bystanders and the right first responders, Gary Haworth is alive today to thank those who made it possible.
He says he remembers nothing about the accident itself.
"I just remember leaving work and everything was fine, I had no symptoms."
Laurie Haworth said those on the scene told her that Gary hit a median, swerved back out into traffic, and then hit the median again, without being impacted by other traffic. But the luck didn't stop there. Hospital officials said passersby who assisted included a relative of a first responder, a retired firefighter and a nurse, who helped Maryland Heights Police officers use an AED to charge Gary's heart.
Then came a Monarch Fire Protection District crew from the station house on Olive Boulevard near Fee Fee Rd in Creve Coeur, which got Gary out of the car, and had him at Mercy Hospital's Emeregency Room in 22 minutes. A few hours later, Gary had quadruple bypass surgery.
Members from that crew got to meet Gary and Laurie for the first time since the accident in a brief reunion Monday afternoon at Mercy, where Gary is in his third week of a 12 week outpatient rehab program. He's back at work, and has also lost 35 pounds.
"Someone was watching over him all the way, and we’re just very thankful for all of that," Laurie said in recounting what happened. It is an experience she also shared with during her new employee orientation at the hospital Monday, her first day on the job. She ran into a former colleague from another job in the days after Gary was hospitalized, and she now works in the hospital's telemedicine unit.
"Yours is one of those remarkable cases that show when all the pieces of the puzzle come together, what a good outcome that we can have from the initial citizen response and the bystanders that came and the police officers that had the AEDs and then the fire department that showed up," said Dana Buckley, an engineer on the Monarch team.
Monarch Captain Chris Overy said they were all floored when they saw a picture of how Gary looked 12 days after the accident considering the circumstances when they met the first time. They were appreciative of seeing the fruit of their labor back on his feet and getting a second chance at life, saying it reinforced what they do on a daily basis.