Basketball Player Collapses, His Team Had Only Minutes to Save His Life

August 16, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–It was a Wednesday night like any other as nearly a dozen men gathered to play basketball at South Brunswick High School. The over-40 men’s league was playing its usual night game on August 9th but with a smaller crowd of players. About 45 minutes into the game, two players asked to sit out. One of the players, Javier a 48-year-old Princeton man told a friend he didn’t feel well as he took a seat in a chair under the far basket. As players continued to play at the other end of the basketball court, Javier collapsed off the chair, face down onto the court. His fellow basketball players raced to his aid. One of the players, Cheng “Rob” Lee, a volunteer fireman with the Kingston Fire Department, knew they had to act quickly. He directed Mike Dooley, the site supervisor, to call 911 and another to get the AED. A second basketball player, Raj Vora, knew things were serious as they rolled Javier over and he began to turn purple. Vora described Javier as gasping for air with clenched teeth. Vora ran into the hallway to get the AED. Another player, Freddy Schenk an athletic trainer knew immediately he had to begin CPR. As Schenck began chest compression, Lee gave mouth-to-mouth to Javier. They applied the AED and it shocked Javier, but still no pulse. Lee knew when the AED went off to shock Javier that the situation with their friend was dire. They worked feverishly to try to get Javier’s pulse back.

Two minutes after the 911 call, South Brunswick Officer Sean Nally who was nearby arrived at the high school. Officer Nally found several basketball players tending to Javier who was on his back and still did not have a pulse. Officer Nally stepped in to continue CPR and another shock was given by the AED. Within minutes the Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad arrived along with paramedics and lifesaving efforts continued. After several minutes Javier regained a pulse. As they placed him in the ambulance, Javier became alert and began speaking with EMS asking what had happened.

South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said the case highlights the importance of everyone knowing CPR and having access to an AED. “It was split-second actions by the basketball players, Officer Nally and EMS that saved a father’s life.” Each year, 350,000 Americans experience cardiac arrest and only around 10% survive. Studies show that if immediate CPR and defibrillation are applied within the first 3 minutes most of the victims of cardiac arrest can survive, yet with each minute that goes by the chances drop significantly.

Chief Hayducka said, “They only had minutes to act to make a difference. The fact that the South Brunswick School District has invested in AEDs at all the schools made a huge difference.”

Javier was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick where he continues to receive treatment. He is so thankful for all those who rushed to save his life. Javier said, “Thanks to the quick actions, training, and knowledge of my fellow players, police officers, and EMS, I get to continue my life and be a husband to my wife and a father to my daughter. I am eternally grateful for their critical life skills!”

If you want to learn CPR, contact Penn Medicine Princeton Health at 1-888-897-8979  or go to the American Heart Association website at for more information. 

Basketball Player Collapses, His Team Had Only Minutes to Save His Life

Photo left to right:
Aijun Li, Officer Sean Nally, Mark Dooley, Tony Anghelone, Raj Vora, Cheng “Rob” Lee, Fred Schenck, Phil Homward, Robert Goldberg, Michael Dibendetto, Moammar Zuriki
In the video Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad members – Dan Murphy, Chico Ruiz, Aaryan Modi, Meesam Ali