Marathon runner collapses; legally dead for 19 minutes

A Phoenix man crossed the finish line of the Phoenix half-marathon last month as he had a heart attack.

The 57-year-old runner collapsed at the end as he was in full cardiac arrest.

On Wednesday, he was reunited with the doctors, paramedics, and staff that ultimately saved his life.

"It's good to be alive, obviously," said Joseph Marquez.

"I can remember up to mile 7 or 8, and for some reason I cannot remember past mile 8," said Marquez.

Although he cannot remember, Marquez ran for another five miles and finished the race. He collapsed right after he crossed the finish line. 

Volunteers got him into a wheelchair and rushed him over to the medical tent.

"As soon as they rolled him in he was not responding at all, making strange movements that mimicked a seizure," said Dr. Rick Averitte.

Dr. Averitte then started CPR on Marquez and paramedics arrived shortly after, but by then Marquez was in full cardiac arrest. 

Firefighters administered an AED; they say Marquez had a lethal heart rhythm and his heart was close to stopping altogether.

"He was basically dying to the point where he was clinically dead," said Forrest Smith with Mesa Fire.

But thanks to the quick work of dozens of people who worked on Marquez at the race, and at the hospital, he survived. And on Wednesday he was able to personally say thank you.

"Thank all of you for your training, your dedication, and not giving up," said Marquez.

Firefighters say that Marquez likely ran the last five miles of the half-marathon while suffering a heart attack. It turns out three of his arteries were almost completely blocked; he ended up having major heart surgery.

One month later, Marquez was given the medal he earned.

"Oh, I'm glad I get to wear it," said Joseph Marquez.

He said he looks forward to running the Phoenix Marathon again next year.

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