Students recognized for lifesaving actions

When they found a fellow student in cardiac arrest, East Carolina University students Krysta Byrd and Bradly Boaz stepped in to help, and their actions helped save a life. The pair was recognized in a ceremony Thursday at the Main Campus Student Center.

On Sept. 22, freshman Blake Solomonson was out for a run.

“I was running up from the greenway trail and got lightheaded,” he said. “I sat down, and then I fell over.”

The next thing Solomonson remembers is waking up in the hospital.

Byrd receives a hug from Solomonson’s mother, Becky.

Byrd receives a hug from Solomonson’s mother, Becky.

Byrd, a junior biology major, found Solomonson unresponsive outside the dining hall on College Hill and called 911.

“It was kind of almost instinctual that I needed to do something,” she said. “So calling 911 was really my first train of thought.” She waved down Boaz, who also jumped in to help.

“I happened to go next door to the dining hall from my dorm in College Hill Suites,” said Boaz, a health services management major and a junior in the ECU Honors College. He had started an EMT certification course over the summer, which included CPR training. Boaz, who is also a resident advisor for Campus Living, administered CPR until first responders arrived.

Their actions made the difference in saving Solomonson’s life, said Dr. Lynn Roeder, dean of students.

“Due to their heroic actions and their successful efforts to try to revive Blake during this medical crisis, we are recognizing both Krysta and Bradly with a citizenship award,” she said during the recognition ceremony. “Citizenship is one of the pillars of the ECU creed, and we are very proud today of these two individuals.”

ECU Police Chief Jon Barnwell also presented Byrd and Boaz with a Lifesaving Award, which he said is the same award the department issues to its officers when they contribute to a lifesaving effort in the line of duty.

“Today we have an opportunity to recognize students who went above and beyond and epitomize what it means not only to be a good citizen, but to be a good community member,” Barnwell said.

Solomonson, who plans to major in nursing, said the experience has only increased his interest in the field. “If they weren’t there to act selflessly in that moment, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “It’s made me realize how much it means to other people if I can help them because it’s happened to me.”

Solomonson is taking the semester off while he undergoes cardiac rehabilitation but plans to resume online classes in the spring and return to ECU in person next fall. His parents, Becky and Rich Belthoff, drove with him from Weddington, near Charlotte, for the ceremony. His mother expressed her gratitude for Byrd and Boaz, the first responders and hospital staff who treated her son, and the university administrators who have assisted the family over the past few weeks.

“Just the sheer fact that they stopped their day, on their way somewhere, and checked on another student that looked like he needed help … it was such a selfless act for both of them to take the time and administer what he needed,” she said. “And it’s just amazing to me; I know that God put them in his path that day, and it was meant to be that way.”

The ceremony was the first time the students had seen each other since the emergency.

“I’m very happy to see him and he looks really great,” Byrd said.

Solomonson, left, speaks with Boaz and Byrd.

Solomonson, left, speaks with Boaz and Byrd.