The way CPR is taught at the academy, you’re supposed to pump life back into a dying subject to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive.” It was easy enough for Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy John Gonzales – a drummer, in his off hours, for a popular local dance band – on the day he sustained Darryl Alan Hurt’s membership in this world.
It was Monday in Sacramento Superior Court, and a jury was being selected next door in Department 19 when somebody started banging on the door leading into Department 18, Gonzales’ turf as the bailiff for Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan.
Gonzales came outside to check on the commotion when he quickly surmised that things were not good for Hurt, a 62-year-old retired electrician, who had collapsed onto the floor’s gray tiles.
“I rolled him over,” Gonzales said later, in recounting the scene. “He’s turning purple. He’s moaning, kind of gurgling. I’m trying to summon his attention. No reaction, nothing.”
A nurse who was in the jury pool for Department 19 jumped in for a pulse check at the neck. Gonzales felt the wrist. Nada.
“I’m looking at this guy’s eyes, and he’s looking straight up at the ceiling, and his pupils went from dilation to nothing,” Gonzales said. “He stopped breathing. The life of him left.”
Gonzales and the nurse looked at each other, and they took turns pounding out the 104 beats per minute that John Travolta and the Bee Gees made famous. She tired and turned the action over to Gonzales, whose fist-over-palm drum solo into Darryl Hurt’s chest finally produced a couple coughs.
“I go, ‘Good,’ ” Gonzales said. “ ‘Come on, sir. Are you OK?’ ”
Turned out he wasn’t. Hurt’s eyes once again dilated down to nothing and his pulse flatlined.
“He’s dead again,” Gonzales said.
The bailiff jumped back into the saddle and played it once more – “ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”
“I felt good,” Gonzales said. “I felt strong. I kept going. This time, stuff comes out of his mouth. It’s not pretty.”
By this time somebody ran up with the defibrillator machine and hooked it up to Hurt. About 150 volts later, “he let out a big moan,” Gonzales said.
Paramedics pulled up in front of Department 18 within minutes. They took over for Gonzales and rushed Hurt to Sutter Memorial Hospital.
Hurt said he was waiting in the hallway during the lunch break, “basically killing time,” when all of a sudden things became “cloudy.”
“We walked back into the hallway and we’re waiting for the judge or the bailiff or whatever, telling us that we need to get our butts into the courtroom, and I think that’s where I lost my memory,” he said.
Hurt said it feels like he may have suffered a couple of broken ribs, “but I’m not complaining a bit. If he hit me any lesser, it may not have worked. I’m thankful for what he did.”
On Friday, doctors scheduled Hurt for another procedure to keep his heart running right. When he gets home, Hurt said of Gonzales, “I’m hoping to go to the courthouse one day and shake his hand and stuff.”
Gonzales, 45, has been a deputy sheriff for 10 years and a bailiff in Judge Meegan’s courtroom for the past three.
“He’s just an extremely good person, a nice man,” the judge said of her bailiff. “He has a great personality and a lot of diverse interests. He’s great to work with.”
His dance-party cover band, Essex, has a gig next Friday night at Thunder Valley Casino. They don’t do “Stayin’ Alive,” Gonzales said. He’s saved that one for his solo act.