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Second life, second chance

Swift response from personal trainers save man after heart attack
By: Kristine Guerra, Special to the Press-Tribune Special to the Press Tribune
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In the morning of May 12, John Stassi was thinking of skipping the gym. Had he done so, his daughter would be in mourning on Father's Day. At around 7 a.m., the 47-year-old El Dorado Hills resident was doing his usual Tuesday morning workout with his friends and co-workers at Granite Bay’s Gold’s Gym. Shortly after his routine cardio workout he had a heart attack. “My mom pulled me out of school at 1 o’clock,” said daughter Alex Stassi, who turned 12 recently. My heart kind of stopped when I heard he had a heart attack. I was trying to prepare myself for seeing him. I didn’t know what to expect, really.” Stassi and his daughter have always been close. For five years, he’s been coaching his daughter’s soccer and softball teams. Alex Stassi also likes spending time at her dad’s office especially during the summer. “I was thankful he was in the gym,” Alex Stassi said. “If he wasn’t I would’ve lost him. It would be very hard.” Stassi said he was preparing for a training session with Mario Muñoz, his personal trainer for five years, when he suddenly felt dizzy. “I remember looking up at the TV and everything just turned white,” he said. Stassi’s long time friend and co-worker, Alonso Bayardo, said Muñoz and two other trainers, Mike Granlund and Steve Steichen, went over to help with Stassi’s situation. Granlund immediately performed a CPR on Stassi while Muñoz held his hand. “His eyes rolled white, he stopped breathing, his head tilted to the right, and he was gone,” Bayardo said. “That’s when Steve assumed the position to give him mouth to mouth, and Mike was getting ready to use the defibrillator.” Granlund said there was no breathing for one minute. After two shocks, Stassi was back. The paramedics came minutes later, Bayardo said. “I hate the Lakers” was the first thing that Stassi said after coming back. “It was very quick and very well done. Throughout this whole thing, Steve and Mike were just calm as can be,” Bayardo said. An angiogram done at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento revealed Stassi’s heart had an arrhythmia and three main arteries were clogged. A triple bypass was done two days later. Stassi said his family history, high cholesterol and hypertension caused the heart attack. “I was actually in denial for probably a couple of weeks,” said Stassi, who’s always considered himself youthful and energetic. “It was hard for me to believe that I was the one who had the heart attack, that I was the one that was very well could’ve been dead. “In the quiet times when I was resting, I did learn about myself,” he said. “And I’m forever grateful to Mike, Steve and Mario.” Granlund said had there not been a defibrillator at the gym, Stassi wouldn’t have survived. “It’s a good feeling. It doesn’t really hit you ‘till later that you saved someone’s life,” Granlund said. Stassi said he’s now on a healthier diet and is looking forward to maintaining a more regular workout. He’s also back to spending time with his daughter. At the hospital, Bayardo recalls a nurse telling Stassi, “Oh, you’re smiling now.” “Well, I have every reason to smile,” he said.