Parents Go on Life-Saving Mission

The pain is unbearable for Evelyn and Larry Pontbriant as they return to the place where they watched their 15-year old son Larry collapse while running in a race in Norwich’s Mohegan Park in August 2007.

 “He made eye contact with us and then his eyes rolled back a little bit and then he staggered," Pontbriant’s father says as he points to the pine tree near where his son fell.

 A lacrosse player in excellent shape, 15-year old Larry had gone into sudden cardiac arrest and later died.

 The Pontbriant's believe if an automatic external defibrillator had been on hand that day, "he would probably be alive today. So basically we're on a mission,” said Larry Pontbriant before choking back tears.

 His wife, Evelyn, explains, "We are trying to get AEDs out to schools and to athletic fields so that something like this, if it should happen, at least you would be prepared."

 The state legislature took up their mission.

 Both the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill this week requiring one AED and a staff member trained to use it in every Connecticut school.

 “Schools are like community centers. They have plays and athletic events,” said Joni Czajkowski, Senior Director of Advocacy with the American Heart Association. "It's a great location to have these devices and again, if you need it it's there. You have immediate medical care."

 The bill doesn't provide funding for the AEDs, but allows schools to accept donations.

 Larry's parents set up a fund in his name that has already bought more than 50 AEDs for schools, including his former high school, Norwich Free Academy.

 The Pontbriant's grief has given them a new mission in life.

 “He's wanted us to speak up and I think we did," Evelyn said, fighting back tears.

 The legislature also passed a Good Samaritan bill that protects Connecticut businesses from liability if they have an AED at their facility.

 The bills are now headed to the Governor M. Jodi Rell.

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