Santa Barbara resident Jeffrey Brown was biking on his usual route from Hope Ranch to the Bacara Resort when a woman flagged him down for help at the western end of Ellwood Bluffs, asking if he had a knife.
She directed him toward a Eucalyptus grove, where a man was hanging from a rope tied to a tree, with his feet approximately three feet from the ground.
Brown immediately hoisted the unconscious man onto his shoulders and split the rope with his knife, trying to cushion the falling man.
He then laid the man down on the ground and administered CPR for 10 minutes, alternating with the woman’s husband. Brown sells medical supplies for a living and said he has been through first-aid training and CPR classes several times.
“He was warm, really warm,” Brown said. “He couldn’t have been there longer than, I’d say, a few minutes.”
After about 20 minutes, the 911 dispatcher who had been on the phone with the woman told the two men to cease administering CPR, according to Brown. “I wish now that I had been on CPR longer, but when the 911 person tells you to stop, you stop,” he said.
The family initially found the man near the old Venoco station in Ellwood oilfield. The location is a common walking area, and Brown said a passerby would have found the student soon after the incident if Brown and the family had not been there.
Due to the off-road location, however, Brown said emergency services were not able to arrive at the scene until 20 minutes after the two men first performed CPR. When the emergency medical technicians arrived, Brown said they administered CPR with oxygen tanks and defibrillated the man four to five times.
“The EMT’s kicked butt when they got there … it took too long, it wasn’t their fault, but it took too long,” Brown said. “When they left, he had a very weak pulse, they said, and that’s the last I heard from them.”
The UCSB student, whose name has not yet been released, was transported to a hospital yesterday in critical condition, according to Kelly Hoover, a Santa Barbara Sherrif’s Office spokesperson.
The student underwent infectious disease testing after receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Brown said he called the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for the test results a few hours after the incident and asked a woman about the student’s condition.
“He’s still on the board,” Brown recalls a woman saying. “Which was, I think, her way of letting me know that he was still alive. That’s what I took from it.”
Brown returned to the location to process the incident on Thursday, saying that it was difficult to believe what he had seen the previous day. Brown said he was “taken aback” to see that part of the rope which he had cut was still hanging from the tree.
In his line of work, Brown said he has delivered medical supplies to many senior citizens who are nearing the end of their lives.
“I’ve seen a lot of deceased people, but they’re usually 90 years old and hooked up to oxygen,” Brown said. “This is the first time I’ve run into someone that was young and vibrant and looked like I did thirty years ago.”
Students who are in need of mental health support can contact Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) at caps.sa.ucsb.edu or 805-893-4411.
If you have immediate concerns about someone’s life or safety, please call 911.
[Update May 20, 2:09 p.m. : The headline has been updated to remove the word “exclusive” and reflect the current condition of the student.]
[Update May 24, 11:00 a.m. : The student passed away in a hospital on May 20.]
[Correction: An initial version of this article said emergency medical technicians were administering CPR in 40 minutes. They were administering CPR in 20 minutes.]