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N.H. Rep. Mark McConkey's life saved by Good Samaritans

Being in the right place and prepared to act made the difference

MARK MCCONKEY in a photo taken during his successful campaign for re-election to the N.H. House in October 2010. (Daymond Steer photo) (click for larger version)
July 26, 2012
OSSIPEE — A hero is defined as someone who shows great courage or who is admired for achievements and noble qualities. Several people turned into heroes last Sunday, July 22, when they played a part in saving the life of N.H. State Representative, Freedom resident, business owner, husband, and father Mark McConkey.

With the help of many, we have been able to track down most of the people who stopped what they were doing to offer help to a man they didn't know, but we are seeking our reader's help to identify any of those whose names we haven't learned.

The chain of events started just after 2 p.m. when McConkey's Toyota sedan was spotted by a passersby on Route 41 in West Ossipee, parked off the road and slightly up an embankment. The passersby, Diana Flaherty of Newburyport, Mass. and Cheryl Steele of Billerica, Mass. stopped and began flagging down passing motorists for help and called 911. Andrew Chaput of Freedom also called 911. The emergency calls were routed from the main call center to Carroll County Dispatch Center where Dispatcher Jeff Roub handled the call. Along came John and Debi Hubbard of Brownfield passing by on their way to Laconia. They stopped their pickup partially blocking the road since the incident was unfolding on a blind curve. Debi said she jumped out and ran to McConkey's car, trying to get into the car to help but the doors were locked and windows were up while McConkey sat slumped over appearing unconscious and his passenger, the family dog Gretta, sat patiently in the car. John Hubbard grabbed a tire iron from his truck and smashed out the passenger window of McConkey's car. Meanwhile more people were stopping to help including a junior firefighter from Tamworth Fire Department, Zach Remick. Debi Hubbard recalls Remick was "just amazing" as he tried to help the situation.

Others passing by stopped to help to stop the traffic on this busy road. One man, whose identity we have not been able to determine took off his shirt to offer as a pillow as others lowered McConkey from his car onto the ground. Rob Peters, an intermediate-level EMT and firefighter with Bedford Fire Department, was passing through with his teenage daughter headed to their seasonal campsite at Danforth Bay Campground in Freedom and stopped to offer his help. Arriving about the same time was Madison Police Officer James Hayford, who was on patrol near the Ossipee/Madison border and decided to head over to see what he could do. Peters and Hayford worked together to do CPR on McConkey who was unconscious, not breathing, and had no pulse. Peters said that he asked Hayford if there was an AED (automatic external defibrillator) in his police cruiser they could use to administer shocks to McConkey but there was not so the two worked together using their training to give CPR. While Peters gave McConkey rescue breaths, Hayford did chest compressions. They were able to get McConkey's heart beating again and he was swiftly taken from the scene by North Conway Ambulance crews, including paramedic Rob Cunio, to Huggins Hospital. McConkey was then transferred to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester where, as of press time, he remained, and is undergoing a series of tests to determine what caused his heart to stop beating.

Meanwhile, in all the commotion, there was McConkey's very friendly Rottweiler that needed a ride home and a wife that needed to be notified. Freedom Police Officer Matt Tyler gave the dog a ride home and found Mark's wife Carol, who was out on her daily exercise run. Tyler gave Carol a ride to the hospital. Police officers will often provide this courtesy to family members during emergency situations since those who suddenly receive alarming news about their loved ones cannot safely drive themselves to the hospital.

It is often the folks who do the most heroic things that are the most humble. That is true in this story of courage, compassion, and selflessness. Debi Hubbard said she has no medical training but just "used her mom card" and did what she thought was the right thing to do. John Hubbard, who was actually a little nervous that he might get in trouble for breaking McConkey's window, said he didn't do anything more than anyone else would have done. "I don't feel special because of what I did. The fact that a man got a second chance, now THAT is special," he said. Peters and his family love the time they spend visiting the area in the summer. He wasn't scheduled to stay at Danforth Bay this weekend but made a special two-hour trip to meet someone interested in buying a camper. Those who believe in fate might say it was that that brought Peters through the area just at the right time. Peters said the responding medical personnel and firefighters did a remarkable job in handling the situation. Peters also took the time Tuesday to travel to the hospital to meet McConkey.

Officer Hayford is humble as well, and said he was just doing his job and using the skills that he has been trained to use. But he did add that "someone from Above must have been watching over us and him [McConkey]." While he did say that Hayford was "in the right place at the right time," Madison Police Chief Jamie Mullen doesn't think it was just a routine day on the job for Hayford. "I couldn't be prouder of Jim. Jim not only gave a gift to Mark but also gave a gift to Mark's wife and to his children."

News of the event spread quickly throughout the community and down to the State House. In addition to being a local business owner, as the "M" in M&V Convenience Store in West Ossipee, and owning his own septic design and construction business, McConkey is known for his years of public service at the town, regional, and state level. Some of his past public service includes serving for many years on Ossipee Zoning Board, his work with the Lakes Region Planning Commission, and his extensive work that led to the construction of bicycle lanes on Ossipee Lake Road in Freedom.

He has served since 2002 as a state representative and is on the House Public Works and Highways Committee. As a county delegate, McConkey recently chaired the Mountain View subcommittee charged with coming up with a recommendation for what to do with the old county nursing home. He also serves on the sheriff department subcommittee. N.H. House Speaker Republican Bill O'Brien said in an interview Tuesday that he has known McConkey since they both entered the legislature as freshman legislators so many years ago and he has a great deal of affection for his fellow classmate. "When we learned of the incident involving Mark we were obviously very concerned and are very grateful for the help that members of the public provided to him. This state is such a decent state with such willingness of people who are ready to help their neighbors," he said.

From his hospital room Monday McConkey sent a message: "I am overwhelmed with the overflow of well-wishers who have dropped by or called with their best wishes and prayers for my continued recovery. Our family is extremely thankful to the local responders, those visiting the area and to our local young man Zachary Remick who helped bring me back to life and to the good people from North Conway Ambulance and Huggins Hospital for keeping me alive. Thank you to Matt Tyler from Freedom Police for safely returning our Rottweiler Gretta back home from the scene and who personally informed my wife and daughter of the situation. I am so thankful to be part of a small town where we all care for each other."

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
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