Lexington man reunites with 2 men who saved his life after massive heart attack on Columbia-bound plane

Lexington man reunites with 2 men who saved his life after massive heart attack on Columbia-bound pl

LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A Lexington man reunites with two strangers who saved his life on an airplane in July after he had a massive heart attack.

Mark Thurston had just boarded a flight from Charlotte to Columbia when he had a massive heart attack and collapsed in the aisle.

A former Army Ranger from Sumter and a Richland County District Two administrator jumped into action, performing CPR for 15 minutes until EMS could arrive.

Thurston said during the reunion that it was a series of miracles that put him on that plane from Charlotte to Columbia on June 27 sitting near Nathan O’Neill and Norvel Turner.

“Just through faith or the good Lord above,” Thurston said. “He decided that I’m going to put this group of people there right now because that group of people will take care of him.”

Thurston said he wasn’t supposed to be on that plane traveling from Charlotte to Columbia on June 27.

“Because of bad weather, they put me on a different flight to Charlotte,” Thurston said. “I was supposed to go to Chicago.”

He was sitting a few rows away from O’Neill, who had just taken CPR training the week before, and Turner, who is a former Army Ranger.

“Tt’s just cool when the stars line up and God puts you in a place for a reason and you can see how we’re all connected,” O’Neill said.

Thurston stood up to go to the bathroom and collapsed in the aisle. O’Neill and Turner immediately jumped into action.

“I’m still at awe how it just came together naturally,” Turner said. “It was no one forcing anyone or trying to take over anything, it was a natural occurrence.”

They performed CPR for 15minutes until EMS arrived - in that time, restoring a pulse and keeping blood to his brain.

“Because of that, a whole family gets to stay together,” Thurston said.

“What was incredible was at the end when they said ok he is finally breathing,” Turner said. “It was like a sigh of relief. It was like, ‘Ok, everything we did was not in vein. It was to give one who was losing life, life back again.’”

Thurston had a quadruple-bypass in the days after his heart attack. Thurston said that, because of Turner and O’Neill’s quick actions, doctors expect a full recovery.

“I’m just really grateful,” Thurston said.

Thurston said a group of Richland County teachers sitting near him also helped save his life that day.

The teachers searched his bag for medications Thurston might be taking, found his wife’s information, and prayed over him as Turner and O’Neill performed CPR.

Thurston met many of those Richland County teachers a few weeks ago when he came home from the hospital.

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