KGUN 9NewsSpirit of Southern Arizona


An unlikely friendship from a lifesaving experience

Posted at 9:17 PM, Aug 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 00:17:10-04

BENSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — If you saw Lloyd Koppes and George Lewis chatting, you would think they are best friends giving each other life updates and asking about cars.

"What's under the hood," Lloyd asked.

"A 565 cubic inch motor," George responded.

The two had hardly knew each other before July 17th, but that quickly changed.

George was part of a crew working to build Lloyd a new garage outside of his home in Benson. Throughout construction, Lloyd would periodically go out and take videos of the progress. On July 17th, Lloyd was taking a video of the construction when all the sudden George collapsed. Lloyd immediately rushed over and called 911.

"One of the guys collapsed and he's not responsive," Lloyd said to the 911 operator.

They were quickly recognized that George had gone into cardiac arrest.

"He was gray and pasty, and his eyes were open, but no one was home," Lloyd said. "He wasn't breathing."

Lloyd, who is trained to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) and administer CPR, jumped into action. He grabbed his defibrillator and began the process of using it. He then started CPR on George.

Throughout the tense moments, Rebecca Colby was on the phone guiding him through the process. Minutes later, George began to breathe again.

"For him to start breathing again that was a relief," Colby said. "I never thought that would've happened."

Lloyd, with the help of Rebecca and the other construction workers saved Lloyd's life and bought the paramedics who were responding to the site time.

"If they wouldn't have done that, they wouldn't have given us anything to work with," Amy Steinberg, the first paramedic on the scene, said. "He would've been dead by the time we got there."

The paramedics then loaded George into the ambulance and took him to a helicopter that rushed him to a hospital in Tucson.

George is forever grateful to the entire team that helped save his life. Both George and Lloyd are glad to have a new friend.

"Our lives go into different directions, so I don't know how often I'll see him, but when we do it's like brothers," Lloyd said.

Now everyone involved is hoping to raise awareness for the importance of having CPR training and having an AED nearby when possible.

"I definitely think CPR training is important," George said. "If people can afford to buy a defibrillator, to have a personal device like that it's not a bad thing. Especially if you work amongst people or stuff like that because it can save lives and obviously it did with me."