Long Island basketball player alive after collapsing thanks to CPR-trained coaches

Stacey Sager Image
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Long Island basketball player alive after collapsing thanks to CPR-trained coaches
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Chaminade High School varsity basketball player P.J. Kellachan is alive thanks to his coaches after he collapsed at the end of practice on Long Island. Stacey Sager has the story.

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- A high school basketball player on Long Island is alive because of his coaches quick-thinking and life-saving training after he collapsed after practice on Tuesday.

They say practice makes perfect, but at no time was that more critical than this week at Chaminade High School in Mineola.

"You don't have to have all the answers, but you have to have just an idea of what you're doing," Chaminade Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach Bob Paul said.

Coaches and staff put their emergency CPR training to use immediately when their worst fears suddenly became reality.

Varsity player, 17-year-old P.J. Kellachan had just walked away from a drill when he suddenly collapsed, had a seizure and slipped into cardiac arrest.

"I remember being on the court, I don't remember coming off," Kellachan said.

But the others sure do.

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Paul sprang into action to resuscitate Kellachan and athletic trainer Jorge Vargas shocked him twice over about 10 minutes until they got a pulse.

"I don't even know how to explain it, it was a big adrenaline rush at the same time," Vargas said. "There's something there and you have to react and every second counts."

Coach Dan Feeney had already called the emergency responders and directed Kellachan's teammates to guide them in, but there was still another call to make.

"It's going through my head as I'm on the phone with paramedics, I gotta call his parents," Feeney said. "So, I called mom, filled her in. Thank God he was breathing at the point."

"It's gut-wrenching because you have no control over the situation," P.J.'s father Patrick Kellachan said.

The question now is what caused the athlete's seizure. So far, all scans of his heart and brain are clear and there's been no sign of any viruses.

Bloodwork for detailed genetic tests will take another four months, but Kellachan will likely be cleared to play again. He wants to, because fortunately it wasn't his time.

"I wasn't down for the count yet," he said.

So, they push on. This group now has an even deeper sense of teamwork.

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