The family of a Seasiders supporter have praised an heroic fan and a police officer who helped save his life after he suffered a heart attack.
Derek Smith, from Bispham, had been at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday to watch the Tangerines’ 2-2 draw with Bolton Wanderers when he fell ill.
Just minutes after the game finished, Mr Smith suffered a heart attack as his family set off for home.
Mark Green, the step-father of Mr Smith’s grandaughter Natalie, pulled the car over and screamed for help.
PC Garry Lee pulled Mr Smith, who was not breathing, out of the car.
He began trying to massage Mr Smith’s heart while Bolton fan and off-duty nurse Tracey Garde also rushed over to help.
In a strange twist of fate, the 79-year-old had found himself sitting behind former Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba - whose heart stopped during an FA Cup game last year - at the match.
Natalie Smith said: “I was in my car queuing to get out of the Reebok Stadium, as we had travelled separately, when all of a sudden I got a phone call from my stepdad, Mark, to say something serious had happened to grandad.
“My grandad had reached out and grabbed my stepdad – he could tell in my grandad’s face he wasn’t well.
“I pulled over and just abandoned my car and raced down to where he was – they had taken him out of the car and were carrying out CPR. They had to shock him several times to get his heart started again with a defibrillator.”
Mr Smith was shocked four times before the ambulance arrived and took him to Royal Bolton Hospital.
He was later transferred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he is now out of intensive care and expected to make a full recovery.
Miss Smith, 25, who is from Bispham but lives in Prestwich, Manchester, added: “When we arrived, they told me to fear the worse because of his age.
“In a similar fashion to Fabrice Muamba, they cooled his body right down to protect his internal organs and allow them to repair – at that point it could have gone one way or the other – fortunately he is much better now and on the cardiac ward.
“I have to thank Garry Lee from Horwich Police and Tracey Garde who were at the game, as well as everyone else involved – their quick-thinking actions helped save his life.”
A retired police inspector and Police Community Support Officers also went to help, along with Lesley Hough, duty manager at Bolton Arena, who ran to the scene with their portable defibrillator.
Modest hero PC Lee, who was first on the scene, said it was a “team effort”.
He added: “Within seconds I realised he had no pulse and got him out and started doing CPR. Lots of other people came to help and it was a real team effort. I am glad he is going to be okay.”
Tracey Garde, a nurse at the Royal Bolton Hospital, wrote in a message posted on the social networking website, Facebook: “We did what we want everyone to do — everyone needs to learn CPR.
“You never know when you may need it. It was fantastic team work.”