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Quick thinking and a CPR class helped 13-year-old boy save his grandpa's life on I-405

By Orange County Register

Categories: Featured News
August 29, 2016

Boris Govzman doesn’t remember going into cardiac arrest while driving along the I-405 in Irvine.

Wednesday, after a week in a coma, the 69-year-old woke up at Hoag Hospital Irvine and was shocked when told that his 13-year-old grandson had given him CPR, and his 11-year-old grandson had helped, too, in saving his life.

“If it would have happened differently, I might not be alive today," Govzman said in his hospital room Friday.

His doctor, Ethan Yalvac, concurred: “If no one had provided CPR ... the outcome would not have been a good one.”

It all started off as a pretty typical Southern California vacation: grandparents with their two grandchildren, all four from Seattle, a trip to Universal Studios, a walk through Hollywood, a visit to the beaches ... and a drive to Los Angeles International Airport for the trip home.

On that morning drive on Aug. 16, 13-year-old Daniel Tyshler, his brother Jonathan, 11, and their grandparents, Boris and Larisa Govzman, were near the Jeffrey Road off-ramp.

“All of a sudden I see the car swerving to the right through all the lanes,” Daniel recalled Friday morning over the phone from Seattle, back home to prepare for the new school year.

The rental car veered right across lanes, and then onto the shoulder through a stretch of trees and brush, finally coming to a halt in a bed of ice plants.

The brothers, in the back seat, saw that their grandfather was unresponsive. Their grandmother was panicked.

“I just started to shake him and said, ‘Boris! Boris! Wake up!,” she said from his side at the hospital.

Jonathan moved his grandfather’s head to ensure blood circulation and tried to calm their grandmother.

Daniel called 911.

Another motorist stopped to help and told the dispatcher their location.

“I started doing chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth,” Daniel said.

Daniel had learned CPR in a health class the previous school year. To the soon-to-be eight-grader, the class was boring.

“Now I’m glad that they taught it,” he said.

After two rounds of CPR, paramedics arrived. Sgt. Chris Johnson of the California Highway Patrol did, too.

“There are a bunch of trees and ice plants, and they just go right down the middle of it all and don’t hit a single thing,” Johnson recalled.

(The officer has kept in touch with the family, and so has the good Samaritan.)

The boys seemed calm, the officer said, praising their fast thinking.

At the time, the boys’ parents were back home in Washington. Daniel updated them while they hustled to California. The brothers also helped the doctors talk to their grandmother, who speaks Russian and limited English.

Until their grandfather woke up from the coma, the boys insisted on staying in Orange County, sometimes sleeping on waiting-room chairs.

Yalvac, Govzman’s cardiologist, said the grandfather did not have a heart attack but arrhythmia, though it is unclear why the usually-healthy man’s heart stopped. He will be in the hospital for a few more days.

Boris Govzman's voice broke and his eyes moistened.

“They are very intelligent boys,” he said in Russian through his daughter.

His wife teared up: “I’m not only proud of them but I’m grateful, because they saved my husband’s life.”

The trip was supposed to be the boys’ summer vacation before school and the grandparents’ anniversary gift. But the grandfather just doesn’t remember the trip.

“I have to repeat the vacation,” he said.