Saying Thank You to a Hero

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

One thing Nikki Kielar wanted to do before she died was to check in on Nick Swanson, a 24-year-old cardiac arrest victim, whose life she helped save. Nikki unfortunately didn't have the chance do that.

She was the CARS volunteer that died last week in the helicopter crash outside of Washington DC. We found Swanson and checked in on him for Nikki.

“I guess we both thought there would be a lot of time to go see Nick and didn't quite realize what would happen,” said CARS Volunteer and friend of Nikki’s, Hunter Ware.

Ware and Nikki Kielar were the paramedics on the scene, November 7th, 2004 the day Swanson collapsed on the soccer field at Baker Butler Elementary School in Albemarle County.

“I remember very little from that day,” said Nick Swanson.

Two people watching the soccer game began administering CPR. The Earlysville fire department used a portable defibrillator to restart his heart. By the time Nikki and Hunter arrived Nick had been dead for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ware, one of the paramedics who helped save Nick’s life said, “The prognosis is grim with that amount of time. It's rare for people to survive that. Nick is a very lucky man.”

Nick’s heart specialist, Dr. Matt Trojan said, “The numbers are somewhere between 5 and 10 percent will survive and go to the hospital and half survive once they get to the hospital.”

Swanson said,” If everything hadn't come together the way it did, I probably wouldn't be here today.”

Nick suffered some memory loss and partial blindness. And after a long recovery and much rehab, this week was the first week Nick's could go outside. One of the first things he did was to attend Nikki Kielar's memorial service.

“It was a very moving memorial service and although it could never come close to getting to know her I felt like I got a sense of what a wonderful person she was,” said Swanson.

Nikki and Hunter, the paramedics that helped save Nick's life are volunteers at the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad. CARS is completely staffed by volunteers and funded by donations. If you'd like to make a donation go to:

The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
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