Laguna Beach police sergeants provide life-saving care to visiting endurance athlete

Laguna Beach police Sgt. Cornelius Ashton, dispatcher Steven McDowell, Sgt. Darrel Short, and the Meikle family. Photo courtesy of city of Laguna Beach

The quick life-saving actions by two Laguna Beach police sergeants and a Good Samaritan recently saved the life of an Australian endurance athlete visiting with his family.

On Aug. 28, Laguna Beach emergency dispatch received a 911 call reporting a man in full arrest inside the Shoe Cellar at 245 Forest Ave.

Sgt. Cornelius Ashton and Sgt. Darrel Short arrived on the scene shortly after and found an unknown woman performing CPR on Andrew Meikle of Sydney. By then his skin had turned a bluish-gray, Short said. With Meikle’s wife and two daughters crying on the floor nearby, Ashton took over chest compressions and Short gave breaths.

“I’m a dad and I have two little kids,” Short said in a phone interview. “You always put your family in the shoes of people in these situations.”

Paramedics arrived moments later and told the officers to continue CPR as they set up their equipment. In that time span, Meikle began breathing and officers found his pulse beating again.

The paramedics then took over medical treatment, confirmed he had been revived, and was transported to MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in stable condition.

“For police officers, it’s not what we do on a normal basis,” Short said. “It was pretty intense because we had a lot of people watching.”

Days after the incident, the sergeants and Laguna Beach dispatcher Steven McDowell were visited at the Police Department by the Meikle family. Ashton and Short each received stuffed animals from Meikle’s daughters with an attached note including: “Without you, dad wouldn’t be here and we don’t know what we would do without him.”

Meikle was among 12 Ironman athletes to compete in the original Uncle Toby’s Super Series in 1989.

Laguna Beach police have unable to connect with the unknown woman who was the first person to perform CPR on Meikle.

“I still think the real hero is the Good Samaritan who was performing CPR when we arrived,” Short said. “If she wasn’t there, I don’t think Andrew would be here today.”

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