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Bear Creek HS athletic trainer saves referee's life after suffering a stroke mid-game

Harold 'Woody' White collapsed while refereeing a game and recently reunited with the woman who helped save his life.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — WARNING: This story has a video of a group of people using an AED defibrillator to shock a man back to life, it may be hard to view for some.

The very best connections, start with the heart.

And that has never been more true than for Bear Creek High School's (BCHS) licensed athletic trainer Ashley Cowan and a Colorado high school referee, Harold 'Woody' White.

In a regular-season game between the Heritage and Bear Creek girls' teams, the two met in the most urgent way possible.

White wears a pacemaker for his heart, the batteries were dead. In the middle of the game action in the first half, White's heart stopped and he collapsed on the court.

Cowan raced over and was the first to reach White on the floor.

"It very quickly declined," she said. "He wasn't breathing, we couldn't feel a pulse." 

Cowan instructed a BCHS player to grab the AED defibrillator they had on-site, the athletic director called the ambulance and numerous bystanders came to assist White as well. That included one of White's colleagues who was also refereeing the game. He let them know that White had a pacemaker and told them a parent in the stands was a respiratory therapist.

The group administered CPR and attached the AED to White and shocked him in attempts to save his life. White was able eventually to breathe under his own power and was taken to the hospital.

Three weeks later, he returned to Bear Creek High School to thank Cowan. He was also recognized before the start of the BCHS Heritage re-make game (the game was postponed after the incident).

White and Cowan watched the video of the sequence together, as it was captured by an autonomous camera at the top of the gym.

"I'm just very thankful…the Lord puts you in different places for different reasons at different times…I told my wife that I was in the right place at the right time and I'm alright with that," White said to Cowan after watching the video and shedding tears.

The 9NEWS Sports team of Brian Olson and Scotty Gange share the emotional moments Cowan and White shared together in the video above.

This is the second time White has had a heart attack while refereeing a game. Fifteen years ago, a very similar thing happened as he was working a men's league game at a church in Denver.

Woody is still recovering with his wife and children, including his four-year-old son at home.

If you have a story idea you can email Scotty Gange at scotty.gange@9news.com or via Twitter at @Scotty_G6 or on Instagram at @scottygange

Reach the 9NEWS Sports team at sports@9news.com

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