A father who was clinically dead for 18 minutes after suffering a cardiac arrest at the wheel while driving his two kids was saved by his young children.
Stuart Waters, 48, had just returned home after picking up his daughter Sadie, 10, and seven-year-old son Jude from football practice wen he fell ill in his car outside their house in Pembury, Kent.
Mr Waters said he can’t remember anything about his near death experience in March this year beyond arriving home, describing it as a “lights out” moment.
The family were told Mr Walters was clinically dead for 18 minutes until medics were able to revive him as he was rushed to hospital.
The dad-of-two was nearly placed in an induced coma but he began responding to treatment and tests revealed he did not have any brain damage.
Mr Waters had no history of heart trouble and did not feel ill in the moments before his cardiac arrest. As a result, he has been fitted with a defibrillator to regulate his heart rhythm.
Now the two quick thinking siblings have been honoured as heroes after saving their dad’s life by undoing his seatbelt and quickly getting help.
After running into their house to get their mother, two nearby neighbours came out and started performing CPR until a first responder arrived.
Mr Waters said: “The first thing I knew about it was in hospital three days later. My wife was coming in every day, but I was not recollecting anything.
“We had been to football training, drove back, pulled up outside of the house to reverse onto the drive and then it was lights out.
“I had been to work that day, not felt bad or wrong or anything.”
Sadie said that when she and her brother realised their dad was in trouble, they undid his seatbelt and ran to the house to get help.
She said: “The door was locked so we were banging on it and then mum came down from her shower.
“She thought we were playing a trick and then we said dad is not very well. Then mum came out to the car and the neighbours noticed.
“I was quite worried and quite confused at the same time because we did not know what was happening.”
Proud mum Leanne Waters, 38, said she had been in the bathroom when she heard “horrendous sounds” coming from outside and a banging on the front door.
She said: “My kids were howling and screaming and crying.
“I thought they were being silly at first. They were shouting, ‘There’s something wrong with daddy.’
“He was not breathing and I went into panic mode. I ran off to try get help, loads of people came out.
“The kids witnessed a lot, someone took them away into the house.”
She added that two women performed CPR on Mr Waters until the paramedics arrived.
He was then taken to King’s Hospital in south east London for an operation and he has since been recovering his strength through a rehabilitation programme.
However, he will no longer be able to continue in his job as an HGV driver and will not be able to drive any car for at least six months.
He said: “I never thought this would happen to me. It was a major, major shock.
“In this situation I was just thinking about myself, not what everyone else went through.
“It really sunk in that it affected a lot more people afterwards… lying there hearing whether you are going to have an operation at such a young age.”
Now Sadie and Jude have been honoured with a special award from Kent Police, the Schools Team Certificate of Resilience, in recognition of their quick action and bravery.
Sergeant Joe Breen, who presented the award, said: “Sadie and Jude ultimately saved their dad’s life during what was clearly an extremely distressing event.
“Medical staff said that without their incredibly swift actions it would likely have been a different outcome.
“They should both be exceptionally proud of themselves, as no doubt their family, friends and neighbours are too.”
Sadie and Jude also paid tribute to the neighbours who helped, including two social care workers, known only as Gemma and Emma, who performed CPR before the arrival of the paramedics.
Jude added: “We would like to thank the neighbours for helping to save our dad.”