A basketball official is returning to the court where he went into cardiac arrest to thank the people who acted quickly and saved his life.

HAHANNA, Ohio – It was a seventh-grade girls basketball game at Columbus Academy. The game was going into overtime. Seconds mattered, but not on the clock.

“I could have gone home that night,” said Richard Rolle, who refereed the game. “There would be no one there to save me.”

The roll went down right after the buzzer. School employees and parents in the stands acted quickly.

“I thank God for that,” he said.

The stakes were high and a team of strangers saved his life.

“I never thought it was a heart attack because I thought it would hurt more,” he explained.

Now, two months later, Richard has returned to Columbus Academy for the first time to thank those who saved his life.

The Mifflin Township Fire Department provided Richard with coins to give to everyone who played a part. The challenge ahead: Spread the word about CPR education and how important it is.

Every coin was followed by a hug. Richard put his arms around the people who approached from the side. The people who prevented his family from suffering the greatest loss.

“You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it, and obviously for two minutes I lost everything, but now I’ve got it back,” he said. “I’m very grateful for that.”

As for Richard Rolle – it is currently unknown whether he will return to his duties as a referee. Still – he’s motivated to get healthy enough to get back on the golf course before the summer.

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