Utah State basketball: Danny Berger undergoes tests; siblings thank Aggie athletic trainer for saving his life

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5 2012 8:40 p.m. MST

John Berger and his sister Lauren, siblings of Danny Berger, read an update on Danny's medical status at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Danny Berger, a Utah State University basketball player, collapsed during practice yesterday.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

MURRAY — On Tuesday, Danny Berger's 22-year-old heart stopped beating.

On Wednesday, he was talking with friends and family, answering doctors' questions and rapidly regaining the strength that helped him become a college basketball player.

His appears to be a terrifying story headed for a happy ending; but the optimism exists only because of the vigilance and quick action of trainer Mike Williams.

The junior from Oregon was in the middle of a practice meant to put the finishing touches on the Aggies' preparation for its rivalry game against BYU the following night when for reasons still unknown he went into cardiac arrest.

"He was moving to the side for some water and he collapsed into (teammate) Kyisean Reed's arms," said Utah State athletic director Scott Barnes at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Instantly, Williams orchestrated the actions that saved Berger's life.

The Idaho native assessed Berger, who wasn't breathing and had no pulse. While he began performing CPR, he sent someone else to retrieve an AED, which is used to shock the heart, and directed another person to call for an ambulance.

"During CPR the defibrillator was brought down within a minute or two of his collapse," said Trek Lyons, the team's doctor. "The AED was placed on him. He detected that he had gone into full cardiac arrest. The AED, the way it functions indicated that it was a rhythm to be shocked. He received one shock from it. He was able to regain a pulse but then had to be shocked again. At that point EMS arrived and were able to transport him to the hospital where he underwent treatment and care there at the emergency room."

Williams' handling of the situation didn't end there. He went to the football office and retrieved Berger's medical information and drove to the emergency room so doctors would have as much information as possible when treating Berger.

Lyons said if he had to choose someone to handle Tuesday's frightening situation, he'd choose the unassuming but vigilant Williams. For example, in August, it was Williams who checked the batteries on all of the AED's in the in athletic department and made sure they were always courtside during games.

"It's one thing to learn it in a classroom, but when you are involved in one of these situations it's a bit different," said Lyons. "The part that is amazing to me is that he then stays with Danny, he went down last night and has been with him the whole time. He's the last person on the planet (who) would expect any kind of recognition, but the position that Danny Berger is in right now, is due in large degree to a man keeping his mind in a really tense situation and following the protocol. I think you can tell in my response of what I think of Mike Williams and how much trust all of us have in him."

Berger's family issued statements at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray where Berger is now undergoing tests in an attempt to determine what made his heart stop beating. Lyons said the versatile guard/forward who transferred from a junior college in Oregon after serving a mission to Detroit had no history of heart problems.

"As far as heart conditions, we are not aware of any. As a collegiate athlete he is basically running through a stress test everyday," said Lyons. "Anyone that has watched him knows that he is a well-conditioned athlete. It reminds all of us that there are certain things that are unpredictable."

The rarity of a situation like this has been difficult for Berger's young teammates to digest.

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