SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On November 7, 1986, Mackenzie Phillips a football player for Springdale High school suffered cardiac arrest just like Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
As thousands of fans watched Hamlin’s heart stop beating, it brought old memories back for local fans as they watched a similar situation in Springdale.
After 37 years, Cindy Weber and Pig Trail Nation’s Mike Irwin have not fully recovered from that heartbreaking day.
“You don’t want to go through that again. It’s not anything you’re prepared for. It’s like you just want to get away from it,” Irwin said.
“All the details were just mimicked so much, what the Buffalo Bills had gone through on Monday night, that NFL game, and we certainly sense just the same emotions. We understood better what they were going through,” Weber said.
In just a matter of seconds, a community witnessed Phillips suffer cardiac arrest on Friday, November 7, 1986.
“All of a sudden I realize they’ve got the EMTs administrating CPR to him, and it just changed everything. And I mean, you got people praying,” Irwin said.
“We really thought that we were going to get the word that Mackenzie had passed away, and that was probably the hardest thing because he was a hometown hero,” Weber said.
Phillips’s cardiac arrest brought rivals together, a community closer, and made friends and family stronger as they all waited patiently to hear good news.
“We had no idea that he was going to survive. They put him on life support overnight, and then he was in the hospital for about two more weeks after that,” Weber said.
“He went on to the University of Arkansas and played four years for them and never had another incident like that because he took his medication,” Irwin said.
Irwin and Weber felt a sense of relief to hear the good news of Phillips and Hamlin and both agreed that these two athletes are fighters.