Tillis released from hospital after collapsing at DC race
Posted May 17
WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina was recuperating at home Wednesday after collapsing during a 5-kilometer charity race in Washington, D.C., and being taken away by ambulance.
"I want to thank the first responders, the Good Samaritans and the people at the hospital that did just a wonderful job to check me out and give me a clean bill of health," Tillis said in a YouTube video posted Wednesday afternoon, after he had been released from a local hospital and had returned to his Capitol Hill office.
The 56-year-old was on the ground being treated by bystanders about 15 to 20 minutes into the 3-mile race in Anacostia Park in the southeast part of Washington. He at first appeared unconscious but was revived and breathing when taken away by ambulance.
T.J. Cooney said he was running behind Tillis when he saw the senator collapse.
"I just crossed the 2-mile marker, and off to the side I saw a man who just sat down on the curb. Then, moments later, he just collapsed. He stopped breathing," said Cooney, a former lifeguard who works for AARP in Washington.
He called 911 while an off-duty police officer started CPR.
"They were just giving chest compressions. (The officer) was bent over and pumping his chest," he said.
Tillis posted a video on Twitter from his hospital bed Wednesday morning, saying he was OK and thanking people for "all of your prayers and well wishes."
"Hey everybody, I’m fine. Just running about 2½ miles in and got overheated. No CPR. No special measures. Just checking me out," Tillis said in the video. "See you back on the Hill."
Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin released a statement Wednesday afternoon acknowledging that the senator had received chest compressions before being taken to a nearby hospital.
Tillis was participating in the ACLI Capital Challenge race, an annual charity event, leading his own "Team Tillis." Many politicians and other prominent Washington figures run the race.
News of the his collapse and trip to the hospital quickly spread at the General Assembly in Raleigh, where Tillis served in the state House for eight years, including four as House speaker, before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.
"The initial reports were concerning, but things are going well," North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "We certainly wish him a speedy recovery. Obviously, thoughts and prayers for him and his family."
"You get a real pit in your stomach when you hear that news, that something happened to your friend, then trying to find out what really happened," said Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln. "(I'm) very glad, very thankful that Tom's OK."
Democrats were likewise relieved that their former adversary was in good health.
"There's a little bit of a family for those of us that are in the legislature. No matter what side of the political aisle your on, you get to know each other, you get to know each other's families," said state Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange. "You always worry about each other, so I'm just really glad that he's OK."
"In spite of our political differences, I and the staff at the North Carolina Democratic Party wish Senator Thom Tillis a full and speedy recovery," North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family this morning."
Cooney said he didn't know who Tillis was when he stopped to help, and it wouldn't have mattered if he did.
"It was just a person who needed help," he said. "It wasn't just me. There were several other people who played different roles in this. I'm sure everybody has their own opinion on things, but what really mattered was there was somebody in need who, honestly, if we didn't step in, could have died."