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Bystander rushes to give CPR to ex-Sen. Krueger


San Antonio Express-News (11/11/2004)
by Roger Croteau

NEW BRAUNFELS — Former U.S. Sen. Bob Krueger was rushed to a local hospital Wednesday morning after collapsing from a heart attack in a convenience store parking lot.

He had no pulse and wasn't breathing when the ambulance arrived, Fire Department officials said, but family and friends later said he was revived and conscious at McKenna Memorial Hospital and was expected to recover.

Krueger, 69, was helping a woman into her car in the parking lot of a Diamond Shamrock Corner Store on Seguin Avenue when he collapsed.

Alan Kethan, 41, a Lutheran pastor from Canyon Lake, was across the street getting an oil change at a car dealership when an employee yelled for someone who knows cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

"I learned CPR back in college 22 years ago, but I just did the class again to renew it last month," Kethan said. "I had never used it before today."

Kethan ran across the street to find Krueger next to the car, bystanders surrounding him.

"They all moved back and I just kind of took over," he said.

Kethan, a distant relative of Krueger, said he didn't know who he had helped until someone at the car dealership told him.

An ambulance arrived three minutes after a call was received at 8:35 a.m. and rushed Krueger to the intensive care unit at McKenna, New Braunfels Fire Department Capt. Ray Hacker said.

"We have it drummed into us in training that early CPR and early defibrillation save lives, and in this case it apparently did," EMS Capt. Mark Eliot said.

Krueger's wife, Kathleen, and three children, joined him at the hospital. Several family friends gathered in a waiting room.

Nina Guinn, Krueger's assistant, said doctors couldn't say exactly what happened until test results come back, but the EMS records indicate he was in full cardiac arrest when the ambulance arrived.

"He is doing just fine," Guinn said. "The report is that he is responding well to treatment."

Krueger, a Democrat, was born and raised in New Braunfels, had a career in academia, was elected to the U.S. House in 1974 and served two terms before making unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate in 1978 and 1982.

He served as ambassador at large to Mexico in the Carter administration, was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1991 and appointed in 1993 by Gov. Ann Richards to replace Lloyd Bentsen in the U.S. Senate after Bentsen became treasury secretary. Krueger then lost the seat to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Krueger later served as ambassador to Burundi and then Botswana under President Clinton. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting professor at both Texas State University and the University of Texas. He recently completed work on a book, "Cry from the Heart of Africa," scheduled to be published next year by the University of Texas Press.

This year, he became involved in New Braunfels politics, supporting a proposition to declare the Comal County Fairgrounds as city parkland. That proposition failed, and he obtained a temporary restraining order last week to stop the City Council from giving the fairgrounds to the Comal County Fair Association.

The restraining order was lifted Tuesday, but the judge ruled the city would have to give Krueger two weeks notice before deeding the fairgrounds over to the association, to give Krueger time to obtain another order.