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College football referee clinging to life after heart attack

September 28, 1997

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) _ A college football referee was clinging to life Sunday after suffering a massive heart attack during the Virginia-North Carolina game a day earlier.

James Knight, 51, of Charlotte, was in critical condition early Sunday at UNC Hospitals, which are less than five minutes away from the Kenan Stadium field where he collapsed Saturday. A hospital spokeswoman said Knight’s condition means that his vital signs may be unstable, that he may not be conscious and that a prognosis of his survival is unfavorable.

Dr. Greg Mears, who treated Knight on the field and then accompanied him to the hospital, said Knight’s heart stopped four times, with three of the arrests occurring on the field. His heart was restarted with electric shocks.

``If someone was to have a cardiac arrest, this was the best situation to have one in,″ Mears said. ``If someone went through this at home, they would have had a 20 percent chance″ of survival.

Someone in Knight’s condition would be expected to face surgery within 24 hours of the heart attack, Mears said.

Knight has been an ACC official for 21 years before and after a short stint in the NFL. A Vietnam veteran, he works as a mechanical supply salesman.

He collapsed early in the second quarter of Saturday’s game.

Trainers from both teams and stadium medical personnel rushed onto the field to help. The game was delayed for about 15 minutes before Knight was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

ACC officials are required to display their physical fitness before each season with a timed 1.5 mile run, but this year’s run was cut to three-quarters of a mile because of heat and humidity, said Bradley Faircloth, the supervisor of ACC officials.

North Carolina won the game 48-20.

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