Defibrillator bought by residents saves resident’s life

Solomon Gustavo • Carol Mogren with a picture of her late husband Skip at Cub Foods in New Brighton July 12. Mogren and other New Brighton residents gathered to remember the time in 2006 when Skip was saved from sudden cardiac arrest by a defibrillator at Cub Foods.

Solomon Gustavo • New Brighton residents Carol Mogren and Gene Johnson, who also survived a sudden cardiac arrest with the help of a defibrillator, both admire the plaque commemorating the time a defibrillator saved Carol’s husband Skip’s life in 2006.

New Brighton residents gathered at Cub Foods on Rice Creek Road on July 12, where a plaque commemorating the life, and life-saving event, of Skip Mogren was hung. 

“I wish they’d really done it before he got dementia, he could have been a part of this,” said Skip’s wife, Carol, whose emotions ranged from deep gratitude for the time Skip’s life was saved, in part by the quick efforts of Cub employees, to mourning for her late husband, who passed in February. 

“He would of been embarrassed, he doesn’t like any attention,” she said. “But I think it’s just fabulous. I’m very honored on behalf of my husband.”

One day on an early morning back in May 2006, Skip, while perusing or passing through the soap aisle, had a sudden cardiac event. 

“I heard the medical alert,” said Pat Darling, who was also at the plaque ceremony last week. 

Darling said a woman in the bakery hit the medical alarm and called 911 after seeing Skip fall. Darling ran over and saw a man laying on the floor face down. Darling rolled Skip over, did CPR, including mouth-to-mouth for about three or four minutes, until an officer arrived with an automated external defibrillator, or AED. 

“He’s our darling,” said Carol of Darling. 

The AED brought Skip back to life, back to his wife, with whom he built his New Brighton house 48 years ago, back to his daughter. 

That AED might be the same one bought by the New Brighton community. 

That’s what New Brighton resident and fellow sudden heart event survivor Gene Johnson thinks — that the AED purchased by residents as part of a plan to save more residents did just that.


‘A ripple in a pond’

On Sept. 11, 2002, Gene fell to the ground on his New Brighton driveway. He’d suffered a sudden heart event. 

His wife Yvonne saw him fall and called 911. A New Brighton police officer was nearby and was able to arrive in time to use a defibrillator and bring Gene back to consciousness. 

“I’ll be 16 on 9/11,” said Gene. 

The Johnson’s neighbors were amazed that the AED technology worked, that it actually revived Gene. 

“Like Lazarus, I came back,” said Gene. “Everybody got excited.”

The walkathon organizing was led by Margot Jacobson and Shannon Peterson, Johnson’s cul-du-sac mates, some of whom have been neighbors since the late 60s, or “forever” as Jacobson put it. 

They walked around New Brighton handing out flyers and going to businesses for contributions. Come time for the walkathon that fall in 2002, before the winter cold settled in, some 100 people participated, said Jacobson. 

“It really gave you a warm feeling about people and their caring,”  said Yvonne.

The walkathon fundraiser allowed the community to buy five AEDs. Maybe one of them, purchased as a result of Gene’s heart event, was the one that saved Skip. 

Gene said the saving of his life was like “a ripple in a pond,” spreading AED and CPR awareness and equipment to the rest of the city, making the city heart safer. 

Due to city efforts to prepare staff and citizens for how to recognize and respond to someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest, New Brighton became the first city in the state recognized by Allina Hospitals and Clinics as “Heart Safe” in 2009.

“A lot of people don’t survive sudden cardiac arrest, even with a defibrillator,” said Yvonne. “But the percentage goes up.”


– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815

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