WEST NEWBURY — Ray Antonopoulos has heard his wife call for him many times, but never with the urgency she portrayed Wednesday night as he coached the West Newbury Little League Farm League A’s.
“My wife said, ‘Ray,’” Antonopoulos said. “It was in a tone indicative that it was something important. I went over to see what she needed, and there was a woman slumped over in the bleachers. She was in cardiac arrest.”
West Newbury resident and Georgetown native Samantha Graham, 45, went into cardiac arrest in the bleachers while searching for a snack for her kindergartner daughter, Laken. Graham, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December, had received a particularly strong chemotherapy treatment the day before at Commonwealth Hematology and Oncology, placing significant stress on her heart.
“I remember everything up to the point that I went into cardiac arrest,” said Graham, who works as a building aide at the Page Elementary School. “Of course, my kindergartner was at the playground next to the field. My husband was watching her, and I went to relieve him, and my daughter wanted a snack. So it just so happened that he was next to me when it happened, and that’s unusual in these events. Usually, we’re split. I went to reach for a snack, and when I went for it, I slumped into my husband’s arms. I couldn’t verbalize that I wasn’t OK.”
Antonopoulos, who was trained in CPR as a member of the Coast Guard from 1999 to 2002, moved Graham out of the bleachers onto grass next to the field. Graham’s son, Macadam, a second-grader at Page Elementary, was actually at the plate at the time, with no idea that his mother was in need of immediate medical care. Another parent moved Laken away from her mother as Antonopoulos began CPR.