You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Oct 22, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Dentist, nurse receiving Lifesaver Award tonight for saving heart attack victim at Michigan football game

By Lisa Carolin

College football fan Leo Staudacher says that Notre Dame is in his DNA, but the University of Michigan is in his heart. And he means that somewhat literally.


Leo Staudacher

The 69-year-old Bay City resident and his three adult sons were in Ann Arbor Sept. 10 to see the Wolverines take on the Fighting Irish in the first night game at the Big House. During the second quarter, while cheering for Notre Dame, a family tradition that dates back several generations, Staudacher was experiencing heartburn-like symptoms as well as fatigue. Suddenly his arms felt heavy and he collapsed on the two men sitting in front of him.

One of those men, a dentist, and a nurse who was sitting in the same row as Staudacher, are being honored tonight for saving Staudacher's life after he went into cardiac arrest. Marvin Sonne of Farmington Hills and Jan Tardiff of Bay City each will be given the Lifesaver Award at the American Heart Association Washtenaw County Heart Ball which will take place at the Michigan League beginning at 6 p.m.

Sonne and Tardiff say they remember the experience vividly.


Marvin Sonne

"Mr. Staudacher fell forward between my son and me, and I saw a man who was obviously in trouble," said Sonne. "He wasn't breathing and felt cold and clammy. We brought him down onto the bench, ripped open his shirt, and I began chest compressions."

Meanwhile in the same row as the Staudacher family was Tardiff, a nurse who has spent 42 years working at Bay Regional Medical Center. Despite getting a bruise on her leg when she tried to make her way to Staudacher, Tardiff persisted in trying to get to him while her husband helped to get people out of the way.


Jan Tardiff

"I yelled that I was a nurse who could help, and they let me through," said Tardiff, who also helped with CPR. "He was gone, and we were able to bring him back. I felt very blessed because this is what I do. Everybody there was trying to do the right thing."

Within minutes, EMS arrived on the scene with an automated external defibrillator, which was used to shock Staudacher.

"I think he was gone," said Sonne, "but then his eyes started fluttering and his hands were moving. He was brought back, and carried down several rows and put on a gurney."

Staudacher was transported to the U of M Cardiovascular Center, where he watched the end of the football game and spent the next five days recovering.

"The U of M fans, the HVA Ambulance people, and the care that I got at the hospital really impressed me," said Staudacher, a retired banker, who says that thanks to an exercise program and a lower fat diet he is now in the best shape he's been in for a long time.

Michigan football coach Brady Hoke also wrote to Staudacher afterward.

Staudacher is unable to be at tonight's event but has plans to visit Sonne in a few weeks.

"We'll be getting together at my house, and I will present Mr. Staudacher with a half Michigan, half Notre Dame flag," said Sonne. "There are things more important than a football game, and this will bring it to mind. It will be an emotional but very nice moment when we meet. Leo and my lives are intertwined forever."

Since Sept. 10, Tardiff has crossed paths with friends and relatives of Staudacher's who have thanked her for what she did.

"Leo sent me a thank you card," said Tardiff, who says that she looks forward to meeting him in person one day soon. "I hope our paths cross again. I was just glad I was able to help somebody and for it to have such a good outcome."

Tardiff says that when the invitation arrived for the Heart Ball she became teary eyed. As far as Staudacher's reflections about his experience, he says that he has no plans to stop going to Notre Dame football games. But he adds, "I will never root against Michigan again. I'm still seeing a cardiologist in Ann Arbor, and I appreciate all that we have at the U of M. The real story is what happened in that stadium of 114,000 people and the care that I got."



Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

Wonderful article about some very special people. Congrats to Dr. Sonne and Ms. Tardiff. You definitely deserve the accolades. And to Mr. Staudacher, glad you are doing so well. Hope you come back to the Big House and have a much better experience. It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine!


Sat, Oct 22, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Good for Marvin Sonne and Jan Tardiff. Two people who got involved. There really is no excuse in this day and age for anyone to not know how to perform CPR. It may be your only chance to save a person you love. Could you live with yourself knowing that your ignorance in performing CPR lead to the death of a loved one? Not me.

Michigan Man

Sat, Oct 22, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

Nice, solid and excellent story for all involved - Congrats to all involved and the entire U of M football Saturday pre-hospital and medical care and nursing providers!!