Silence overcame Mustang Stadium Friday night when longtime local high school football referee David Bullock collapsed to the turf during the West Jones’ season-opening game against George County.
Emergency first-responders and volunteers rushed to the 66-year-old's aid after he went to the ground in the fourth quarter.
A witness on the sidelines said he saw Bullock begin to shake as fellow referee David Blackwell and then others performed CPR. Trainer Tasha Hayes, along with others, quickly ran to him with a defibrillator before an ambulance was called onto the field.
“It got very, very quiet,” said the witness, who asked not to be identified but said he helped with ambulance first-responders to get a stretcher onto the field.
Bullock was taken to South Central Regional Medical Center and was scheduled to have surgery Monday morning.
The Mustangs went on to win the game 24-16 and prayers and well-wishes immediately went out to Bullock, a familiar face on the local football fields and basketball courts.
Bullock, a native of Seminary, lives in Collins with his wife Susan, who teaches kindergarten at Collins Elementary School. He has two children, Rebecca and Brian, and one grandson, Connor. Bullock, who is also a former coach at Collins High School, currently works for Woolwine Ford and has been refereeing local high school sports for more than 30 years.
Family members said Bullock was in good spirits on Sunday as he prepared to undergo quadruple bypass surgery early Monday morning. He and his family expressed gratitude for those who quickly responded and provided care to him on the field.
"Had they not had an AED machine, this could have had a different outcome," said Bullock's niece Laura Cameron.
Bullock and his family are also "eternally grateful" for the prayers and support they have received from the surrounding communities following the incident. Hundreds reached out on social media over the weekend with encouraging messages for everyone involved in the situation.
"Praying the Lord will guide the hands of the doctors and the staff in the OR and give family strength in Jesus Name Amen,” wrote Marian Allen on Facebook.
Jo Yarbrough added, “Continued Prayers David and his family. May God Bless each need.”
The family has asked for continued prayers as Bullock moves forward on the long road to recovery.