Widow praises duo for trying to save dying husband

Gordon Sutherland and Vikki Stewart. Picture: Jane Barlow

Gordon Sutherland and Vikki Stewart. Picture: Jane Barlow

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THE widow of a popular trader has praised two first-aiders who tried to resuscitate her husband when he collapsed in the street.

Edinburgh University crime prevention officer Gordon Sutherland was walking near his office in Infirmary Street when he saw Johan Venter fall in the middle of the road on January 19.

Johan Venter

Johan Venter

The fit 65-year-old – who was well known for running The Piemaker on South Bridge – had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Doctors at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI) later confirmed he had died from a condition called Sudden Arrthymic Death Syndrome (SADS).

Gordon, 59, of Peebles, rushed to his side and tried to administer CPR for more than 20 minutes until the paramedics arrived.

Gordon, who worked as a police officer for more than 30 years, said: “I have seen a lot of difficult things but to see someone collapse like that – it was brutal.

“He looked up the street and then walked to his car, but just when he hit the popper to unlock it he slumped to the ground. My police training just kicked in.”

Vikki Stewart, PA to the University’s estates director, went out into the street to provide blankets when she heard that someone had fainted.

The 32-year-old, who lives near the Meadows, said: “It was pretty obvious as soon as I got outside that he hadn’t fainted.

“Gordon looked pretty exhausted from doing CPR so I told him I would help him.”

Despite their best efforts, Johan was unresponsive when the ambulance service arrived to take him to the ERI.

Vikki said: “I was speaking to him and holding his hand – just in case he could hear me.

“I just did what I would have wanted if it had been me. I didn’t want him to be alone.”

Johan’s wife Fiona Venter, 55, said it was a comfort to her and her daughter Kirsty, 18, that everything had been done to try to save him.

Fiona, of Ravelston, said: “It was such a shock. He went out at about 12pm and told me ‘I won’t be home for lunch’, then next it was the ERI on the phone.

“I was really touched when Gordon came to the funeral to speak to me.

“It was nice to know that they tried to save him, that it wasn’t due to any incompetence on anyone’s part.

“Everything was done for him that could have been done.”

Vikki and Gordon have been awarded with Royal Humane Society resuscitation certificates for helping to give Johan the best possible chance of survival.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com