Roskovich recovering from ‘widow maker’ attack

Rosco Family

It had to be a miracle.

There isn’t really a better explanation for how Peter Roskovich survived a heart attack that caused him to lose consciousness and stop breathing on the Vail, Colo., mountain where he was snowboarding last week.

Once resuscitated, he flat lined again in the hospital and was shocked back to life, shocked eight times there and five times before reaching the hospital.

The 50-year-old athletic, adventurous owner of Adam’s Ribs and Black Diamond Lodge was in Vail with his nephew  and college friend Mark Tamberino, so thrilled with the surroundings that he texted Linda, his wife of 25 years.

“Vail is killer. Six to 12 inches of fresh powder. Cliff drops,” he wrote around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 31. He had been snowboarding for an hour.

“Have fun,” she texted back.

“Within a few minutes he told my nephew he felt like somebody had punched him in the chest. He said he felt like he was going to throw up. They told him to kneel down. He passed out. Really, he died. He stopped breathing,” his wife told the Salisbury Independent from the hospital in Denver, where he is a patient.

Her nephew called and told her Roskovich had suffered a heart attack on the mountain and medical personnel were taking care of him. From the time it happened, they were on the mountain an hour or so, located five miles back in a ski resort. From the base, it was about a mile to a small hospital that has a cath lab.

“I didn’t realize how bad it was until I got here and saw him. I didn’t know or understand how bad it was. He was on life support. He had been loving it there on the mountain. It was snowing. There was a beautiful powder. He’s a snowboarder. He goes snowboarding or skiing about 25 or 30 days every year,” Mrs. Roskovich said.

At the cath lab, doctors rushed to put in two stents, then a balloon pump.

“It is very rare that a small regional hospital would be able to do that,” she said.

“Then it was snowing so bad, they had originally tried to take him by helicopter to the hospital in Denver. They had to get ground transport that could support that balloon pump. They had to get the right team. It took about two hours to get him to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver where we are now,” she said.

“It was miraculous. They explained to us that, where he was in back of the mountains, how the team on the mountain was able to resuscitate him. There just happened to be a cardiologist there that was skiing, who came over, Dr. Jerry Greenberg. The head of ER was skiing that day and they were able to get Peter stable.

Greenberg hailed a shuttle bus to rush Roskovich to the hospital and, once there, started the procedure.

Roskovich had what doctors call a “widow maker,” 100 percent blockage in the main coronary artery.

“They are telling us maybe 2 percent of people who have had that survived. Maybe 1 percent function afterward,” Mrs. Roskovich said.

Tamberino is trained in CPR and saved Roskovich’s life. He provided valuable information to emergency personnel when they arrived.

“They took off Peter’s helmet and put his head in the snow. That saves the brain function,” his wife said.

All that Roskovich remembers is going up on a lift that day, then regaining consciousness Monday. When he awakened, he immediately recognized his wife, asked what happened and when he could go home and told her he loves her.

“He died twice, once on that mountain and in the cath lab. They had to shock him eight more times. There is no brain damage. He’s typical Peter. He was in intensive care Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They froze him. They wrapped him in bubble wrap and brought his temperature down to 89 degrees to let the brain rest and recuperate oxygen. He was on the ventilator and balloon pump to make his heart beat. He was in a paralytic coma, a medically induced coma,” she said.

For a while, doctors weren’t optimistic that he would live and told her to fly their three daughters — Alexis, a senior in college; Alivia, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis; and Abigail, a sophomore at Parkside High School — to Vail to be with their father.

“I told him we wanted him here more than his dad and his grandfather and grandmother, who have died, wanted him there,” his wife said.

The senior Roskovich died of a massive heart attack at age 44.

Roskovich could be discharged Thursday this week and able to return to Salisbury, where he will see doctors for the next course of treatment.

Meantime, his Facebook page is loaded with good wishes and promises for continued prayed. “We are humbled and overwhelmed. We are blessed. As a family, we’re lucky,” his wife said.

“It was an act of God that he survived. All the pieces were in the right places.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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