An army veteran suffered a fatal heart attack just yards from where a defibrillator had been stolen a few days earlier.
Grandfather Peter Lane (73) from Dogsthorpe passed away after 2pm on Friday, May 29, while fishing with army friends by Decoy Lakes in Whittlesey.
However, Mr Lane, whose birthday is on Thursday, would have had a better chance of surviving if one of the first aiders had been able to access a nearby defibrillator which was stolen in Eastrea Road either late on May 18 or early May 19.
The bungalow next to where Mr Lane was being treated can be seen from the cabinet where the missing defibrillator had been placed just down the road.
Mr Lane, who was born in Braintree, Essex in 1941, served for 22 years in the 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. His last posting was in Peterborough where he was the Senior Permanent Staff Instructor for the 5th Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, The Territorial Army.
He was a father of three boys and grandfather of six.
His son Rick Lane described him as a fit and healthy 73-year-old.
He said: “Our family are so glad that his army friends were with him when he became ill.
“We cannot thank people like Wayne Gale enough who tried to save my dad. It is a comfort to know he didn’t suffer alone and that people tried to save him.
“We have yet to thank them in person but will do so as this must have ben a traumatic time for everyone at the scene.”
Wayne (37) who lives in Orchard Street, Whittlesey, was staying at the lakes when he noticed a few people were stood next to one fishing peg.
After going to see what was happening, Wayne, who is trained in first aid due to his involvement in local football, saw that Mr Lane was slumped over in his chair.
Mr Lane was taken by Wayne and his friends to a van in the car park to make it easier for the emergency services to reach him, but on the way he suffered a cardiac arrest.
This prompted Wayne to rush off in his car to grab the nearest defibrillator in Eastrea Road.
However, with the defibrillator missing, Wayne had to go to Eastrea Hall to pick up another one.
That meant instead of returning within two minutes, it took him about eight.
And although the emergency services had arrived by the time of his return, they were unable to save Mr Lane despite treating him for 25 minutes.
Wayne said: “Every minute counts. Getting the defibrillator in Eastrea Road would have given him a lot better chance of surviving.”
The defibrillators have been placed in Whittlesey by Defibrillators For All.
The charity has so far placed 18 in Whittlesey and after a flurry of donations following last Friday’s incident are ordering a new one for Decoy Lakes to be given in memory of the victim.
The charity’s founder and chair Deborah Slator said: “Our worst nightmare became a reality.
“Our “stolen” defibrillator was needed and the end result is a man died when he may not have had to.
“Well done Wayne you did exactly the right things. Our kind thoughts are with the family.
“The person who stole the defib however has caused all sorts distress. I hope they feel good in themselves.”
Rick added: “We have immense gratitude for the community of Whittlesey who have been so generous with their sympathies and donations to a great cause in Defibrillators For All.
“Our family has made a donation and we shall continue to raise funds so people like my father can have a chance of surviving such incidents.”
Rick also posted on Facebook that his dad was “an ex-solider who was fishing with his Regimental Family at the time. I just wanted to say that our family have been blown away and taken great comfort from the actions of Wayne Gale and colleagues at the scene.
“The messages and posts from people on this site have truly helped us all in this terrible time.
“If anything good can come of such sad times then this site and the work of people such as Deborah Slater are living proof that they can.
“Our family would like to thank you all and join Defibrillators For All in ensuring that ‘anyone’ who should need the help that my father needed should have access to it. Thank you everyone.”
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called at 2.19pm to Drybread Road and sent an ambulance, response car and officer.
“The patient went into cardiac arrest and despite our best efforts nothing could be done.”
A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police said: “Between 8.30pm on May 18 and 4.30pm on May 19 unknown offenders have removed a defibrillator worth £850 from outside a home in Eastrea Road, Whittlesey.”
To donate to Defibrillators For All, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/d-f-a/