Rockville father meets everyday heroes who saved his life

Rockville resident Michael Liu nearly died when he collapsed in a park in May. (WJLA)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – It was a very special birthday for Michael Liu on Thursday.

"It's not really a big milestone in any sort of way, but to me I’m very fortunate and very lucky to be alive at 32 and being able to celebrate this birthday," said Liu, a Rockville resident.

On May 14, Liu almost died.
Heather VonKurtz was in the playground at the College Park Gardens in Rockville around 6:30 p.m. that day with her daughter. She watched Liu fall to the ground and rushed to help him.

"There is a gentleman who was jogging with a baby. He came over and collapsed just a few seconds ago," said Heather VonKurtz when she called 911.

The 911 call continues:
Heather VonKurtz: "I don't feel breath coming from him."
911 Dispatcher: "OK, turn him flat on his back."

VonKurtz stayed on the phone with 911 and gave Liu chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

Heather VonKurtz: "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 ..."
911 Dispatcher: "Heather, just keep going."
Heather VonKurtz: "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 ..."
911 Dispatcher: "You’re doing a great job."

VonKurtz had been trained in CPR more than a decade earlier.

"I’m grateful that that training could bubble back up to the surface after all these years," said VonKurtz.

Jeffrey Purcell is the 911 dispatcher who coached VonKurtz through the CPR.

"Heather definitely had her composure, and if every 911 call taker in these type of situations could be as calm and cool as she was," he said.

Liu met his heroes for the first time on Thursday afternoon in Rockville.

"Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it," he told VonKurtz and Purcell.

Liu, a marathon runner, had an unknown heart condition and went into a coma for 10 days.

"Tremendous gratitude and relief that not only did he survive, but that he walked out of the hospital, really brought me to tears," said VonKurtz.

Liu doesn't remember that day but is grateful to the ones who helped him get the chance to see his second child born this fall.

"I am really excited about our growing family and just having a second chance at life," said Liu.

Liu has also taken a CPR course since his recovery, in case he needs to help someone in his shoes.

Also, not only are Liu and Purcell connected by that life-saving phone call, but they share the same birthday as well.