When Jessica Hoover awoke from a five-day coma last December, the first thing her cardiologist told her was that she should not have survived.
She had gone on an early morning run exactly one year ago, on Dec. 1, 2014, and suffered full cardiac arrest while jogging on a San Diego-area beach. A virus had attacked Hoover’s heart, doctors later said, putting her in a coma for five days following her collapse on the beach.
But she’s alive today – not quite the same, but still able to hug her four kids – thanks to the good Samaritan who saved her. And Tuesday, she was able to thank in person the man who says he still thinks about her often.
"I think about you a lot, because it's like, something that shakes me to the core," David Raasch said at their reunion, a year after Hoover's crisis.
After Hoover collapsed, passersby had stopped to help and call 911, but only one man riding his bicycle nearby got down on his knees to perform chest compressions.
Raasch’s CPR skills quickly got Hoover’s heart beating again, and the compressions saved her life. However, doctors estimated that even with his quick work, it had likely stopped beating for approximately five minutes.
"This is not right, and people not helping is not right, so there's a whole bunch of 'not right' going on, I want to jump in and help," Raasch recalled thinking that day.
"And I really saw I needed to get in there and start doing compressions," he said.
Raasch, a clinical perfusionist, said that day he clicked into auto pilot when he saw the woman lying on the sidewalk.
"I didn't hear anything; I had no idea what happened to you," he said, and he started performing chest compressions.
Hoover remembered nothing when she came out of the coma five days later, and doctors told her family she wouldn’t survive. They predicted that if she woke up, she would have 20 to 30 percent brain capacity.
Raasch, from Phoenix, was in San Diego for his annual vacation and met with Hoover’s children for the first time in an emotional moment.
Hoover and Raasch rushed toward each other at the reunion, hugging each other tightly and smiling. Hoover said she's still alive, and now a certified life coach, thanks to her "hero."
"Many nights I cry just thinking about how wonderful this is to give the gift of life ... I'm so glad you came back," Raasch said.
The single mother of four said her life has changed so dramatically since one year ago.
"It's funny, cause I get a heavy heart, but I also feel really good," Hoover said. "So it's just one of those things; I feel like a part of me died that day, cause I'm not the same anymore, so now I just have to embrace the new me."
Hoover’s heart still only functions at 30 percent capacity, even a year later. She cannot work a full 40 to 50 hour work week due to her medical condition. In April, she went back to work, and ended up in the hospital after a few weeks.
She's starting to accept she may never be able to work a full time job, and is working on building a business. She has started a GoFundMe to help support her family as she continues to work to get back on her feet.
Raasch said the once-tragic moment on the beach has given him a reason to return to San Diego every year and visit the woman whose life he saved by being in the right place at the right time.