Aspen grad recovering from seizure |

Aspen grad recovering from seizure

Hayden Spurrell

An 18-year-old boy who graduated Saturday from Aspen High School is under the care of St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction after he suffered an apparent seizure early Sunday morning at a post-commencement function.

Hayden Spurrell was breathing on his own Tuesday but remained in an intensive-care unit at the hospital, friends of his family said. On Sunday he was in an induced coma and on life support, they said.

Spurrell collapsed while at Project Graduation, a high school-sponsored event held at The Aspen Club. He had been in a hot tub before racing one lap in a swim race. After he emerged from the pool, Spurrell had the seizure. Spurrell’s heart stopped beating and he was airlifted to St. Mary’s. No brain damage was shown on an initial MRI, friends said.

On Facebook, a “Pray for Hayden” page had been set up, where more than 500 members had joined the group, as of Tuesday afternoon, sending their support to Spurrell and his family. Spurrell’s family members were not available to be interviewed for this story, a family friend said.

Details about his progress, however, were flowing steadily through the Pray for Hayden page.

On Monday, the site’s administrator reported that “Hayden partially opened his eyes, squeezed the nurse’s hand and moved his head a little to answer that he knew where he was. Progress!! Keep praying for more of these miracles!”

And Tuesday, the administrator relayed, through a relative of Spurrell’s, that “All tubes are out [and] he is breathing on his own.”

Those details were confirmed by a friend of the family.

Also Tuesday, the high school held an assembly regarding Spurrell, who moved to Aspen in November and is enrolled for the fall semester at the University of Alabama. He also played on the high school’s lacrosse team.

That Spurrell has made the strides he did since his seizure on Sunday has been attributed, in large part, to the response effort that came after he took the turn for the worse.

According to Aspen police, the department received a call at 1:08 a.m. that a male was “unconscious and not breathing, CPR performed, AED deployed, and patient was successfully resuscitated and stabilized. He was transferred via ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital at approximately 1:45 a.m.”

Were it not for the medical and law-enforcement professionals who were at The Aspen Club at the time of Spurrell’s fall, the result could have been much different, said Aspen School District Superintendent Dr. John Maloy.

“Certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We have been monitoring the situation, and we are very appreciative that that the parents and support staff – lifeguards, parents with medical backgrounds, law enforcement – were on hand and that emergency measures were taken immediately. We feel without this being the case, the outcome for Hayden might be a lot different that it is today.”

And in a letter in today’s Aspen Times, Bart Outzen, imaging director at Aspen Valley Hospital, noted – without identifying Spurrell by name because of patient-confidentiality laws – that “a young man’s life was in serious jeopardy.” Outzen’s letter says that members of the Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office who were at The Aspen Club at the time of the incident acted “immediate” and “perfect.”

“For a brief period of time, these six young men acted in unison, performing in auto mode, carrying out precision emergency medical maneuvers to save a life,” he wrote. There was also a nurse on hand at the event who provided support, as well Outzen noted.

Within minutes of the 911 call, personnel from Aspen Ambulance were on the scene, Outzen wrote.

Jim Richardson, director of Aspen Ambulance District, said, “The community enabled him to be a survivor on Sunday morning because of the system that’s put in place.”

Richardson noted that Aspen police officers used an automated external defibrillator, commonly referred to as an AED, to help resuscitate Spurrell.

“The police were there, they grabbed one they had, and they used it,” he said.

Richardson said that the growing presence of AEDs in Pitkin County – they are government buildings, the airport, and in such rural communities of Marble, Redstone and Thomasville – have helped save more than a few lives, Spurrell being the most recent example.

Information on defibrillation, CPR and AEDs is available at o

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