Westport native Tyler Hicks was with Anthony Shadid yesterday, when the New York Times correspondent suffered a fatal asthma attack in Syria.
Hicks — like Shadid, a Pulitzer Prize winner — administered CPR for half an hour. He then carried Shadid’s body across the border to Turkey, according to a story in today’s Times.
The article noted:
The assignment in Syria, which Mr. Shadid arranged through a network of smugglers, was fraught with dangers, not the least of which was discovery by the pro-government authorities in Syria. The journey into the country required both Mr. Shadid and Mr. Hicks to travel at night to a mountainous border area in Turkey adjoining Syria’s Idlib Province, where the demarcation line is a barbed-wire fence. Mr. Hicks said they squeezed through the fence’s lower portion by pulling the wires apart, and guides on horseback met them on the other side. It was on that first night, Mr. Hicks said, that Mr. Shadid suffered an initial bout of asthma, apparently set off by an allergy to the horses, but he recovered after resting.
On the way out a week later, however, Mr. Shadid suffered a more severe attack — again apparently set off by proximity to the horses of the guides, Mr. Hicks said, as they were walking toward the border. Short of breath, Mr. Shadid leaned against a rock with both hands.
“I stood next to him and asked if he was O.K., and then he collapsed,” Mr. Hicks said. “He was not conscious and his breathing was very faint and very shallow.” After a few minutes, he said, “I could see he was no longer breathing.”
Mr. Hicks said he administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 30 minutes but was unable to revive Mr. Shadid.
Shadid and Hicks were in the international spotlight last March, when they and 2 other Times journalists — including Westport native and fellow Staples grad Lynsey Addario, a photographer — were arrested by pro-government militias during the conflict in Libya. During a week in captivity, all were physically abused.