Charleston airport police officer recognized for saving heart attack victim’s life

Stephen Hughes and his family waited to board a flight at Charleston International Airport last month for a spring break vacation in Dallas when he slumped toward his wife.

“I thought he was just trying to put his head on my shoulder,” Mary Norvell Hughes recalled.

The 47-year-old then fell forward. That’s when his wife removed his face mask and noticed he was foaming at the mouth. She called for help and a nurse quickly came over and helped lower him to the floor.

Hughes was having a heart attack.

Others gathered around trying to help when airport police officer Pfc. Aaron Reed arrived and connected a defibrillator to Hughes.

“Stand back,” he shouted.

With no response from the shock, Reed then began performing CPR. 


Hughes was transported to Roper Hospital in downtown Charleston, where it was determined he had 80 percent blockage in an artery leading to the heart. After receiving a stint, Hughes was released three days later. 

He’s now back at work in commercial real estate appraisals. 

“I’m very happy with Officer Reed for his quick thinking,” Hughes said. “I will always owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”

Reed said he was just doing his job.

“I started doing what I was trained to do,” the officer said. “The training took over, and the next thing I knew he was revived.”


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