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Toms River Pays Tribute to Wrestling Coaches Who Saved Boy’s Life

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Assistant TR North Wrestling coaches Josh Huber and John DeMarco (center) are honored by district officials for their role in saving a student's life during a wrestling match. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Assistant TR North Wrestling coaches Josh Huber and John DeMarco (center) are honored by district officials for their role in saving a student’s life during a wrestling match. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Toms River High School North wrestling coaches John DeMarco and Josh Huber were hailed as heroes for their role in saving the life of a Donovan Catholic student during a tournament match last month. On Wednesday night, they received a standing ovation and a room full of cheers for their quick-thinking actions that night.

After Donovan Catholic wrestler Brandon Gonzalez won a match against a North student during the tournament, which also included Lakewood High School, the student grappler never got up off the mat. After a few second went by, referees and coaches knew something had gone horrible wrong. They soon discovered Gonzalez had stopped breathing and had no pulse.

“Sports suddenly took a back seat to what was really happening,” said Toms River Regional Athletic Director Tom Arminio. “Brandon was in cardiac arrest.”

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Several people in the Lakewood gymnasium where the tournament was being held rushed to Gonzalez’s aid. Pat Halpin, Lakewood’s athletic trainer, local dentist Joseph Oleske as well as DeMarco and Huber sprung into action. While Huber and DeMarco performed CPR, trying to revive Gonzalez on the mat, Donovan Catholic’s head wrestling coach Stephen Glawson, an oral surgeon from Lacey, used a defibrillator to restart his heart in time for EMTs to arrive.

Wrestlers pray during a match where a teammate, Brandon Gonzalez, went into cardiac arrest. (Credit: Stephen Glawson)
Wrestlers pray during a match where a teammate, Brandon Gonzalez, went into cardiac arrest. (Credit: Stephen Glawson)

“Because of our district policy that all coaches be trained in CPR and AED uses, these men knew what to do,” said Arminio, congratulating the two assistant coaches. “All worked feverishly and saved the life of Brandon Gonzalez. That night, everyone was a winner.”

Neither DeMarco nor Huber spoke at the meeting. Both humbly accepted certificates of recognition and thanked those who stood up to honor their actions to save a life.

Media reports following the incident stated Gonzalez was feeling better and undergoing tests at Jersey Shore University Medical Center to see what caused his heart to stop.

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