ANNAPOLIS – Bill Knode choked up Wednesday as he spoke to the man who had been his son’s heart for 15 minutes.
Ken Taylor had pounded on 12-year-old Philip Knode’s chest Aug. 10, keeping the boy alive after a lightning bolt stopped his heart and lungs.
“You’re a hero to me and my family,” the elder Knode said. “I can’t say the right words.”
Taylor, a plain-looking man with a light New Zealand accent, looked down and shrugged.
“It makes me feel quite humble,” he said. “But Philip is the real star of the show. He had the courage and the willpower to pull through.”
Taylor was honored Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy by Philip, the Knode family, and state and military officials for the quick thinking and perseverance that saved the boy’s life that August evening.
But Taylor doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“It’s something anybody would do,” he said. He just remembered the cardiopulmonary resuscitation training he received in the New Zealand navy 30 years earlier, he said.
“If we get one more person learning CPR out of it, it’s been worth it,” he said.
Mary DeKuyper, who heads the board of directors for the Central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross, agreed.
“It’s something that can truly save a life,” DeKuyper said. “I urge people to think about Philip and ask, `What would I have done?'”
Philip was fishing Aug. 10 along the seawall at the Naval Academy’s Severn River marina. One storm had already passed and another was quickly rolling in.
Taylor, 51, a maintenance worker at the marina, had been checking the docks one last time when he looked up and saw a lightning bolt strike near Philip.
Taylor ran to the boy and gave him CPR for 15 minutes, stopping only to flag a motorist, who called 911.
“It just gave me chills,” Bill Knode said Wednesday. “I don’t know how many other people would [have helped Philip] in this day and age.”
The bolt of electricity had shattered Philip’s eardrum and singed his hair and face.
Medics first took the boy to Anne Arundel Medical Center, but transferred him later that night to the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Philip stunned doctors there with his rapid improvement after he woke up. The hospital released him after only 10 days.
“He’s back to his regular schoolwork,” said his mother, Lisa Knode.
The boy has months of medical tests ahead, but is indistinguishable from a normal seventh grader.
“Every test seems to be an improvement,” said Philip’s grandmother, Jackie Knode. “It’s just God at work.”