Heard on the Hill

Senate Staffer Suffers Cardiac Arrest at Charity Basketball Game

Jim Lyons is a longtime staffer on the Senate Finance Committee

Keith Urgo, center, associate head basketball coach for Penn State, and other players look on, as Jim Lyons of the Senate Finance Committee, is administered CPR after collapsing during a charity basketball game at George Washington University on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A Senate Finance Committee staffer who collapsed during a charity basketball game Tuesday was being treated at the intensive care unit at a District hospital, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said Wednesday during a markup.

Hatch said that longtime staffer Jim Lyons suffered a “massive episode of cardiac arrest.” Information about his condition was not immediately available. 

“We know that Jim will, as always, give it his all, and God willing, he will be back among us, doing great work, teasing and entertaining his co-workers, and tending to Buddy, his beloved labrador,” Hatch said.

Lyons was competing in the Congressional Charity All-Star Classic at the Smith Center at George Washington University on Tuesday, but collapsed a few minutes into the game. Bystanders and event personnel gave him CPR and a GWU police officer used an automated external defibrillator, according to Vito Maggiolo, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and EMS Department.

Once first responders arrived on the scene, they took over care and treatment, Maggiolo said.

“After working on the patient for some time, they were able to regain a pulse and put him in an ambulance,” he added. 

Lyons was taken to a local hospital, according to event organizer Paul Miller.

Ian Nicholson, a member of Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden's staff, was also participating in the charity game and helped respond to the emergency, Hatch said.

“My thanks also to those in attendance who, like Ian, took it upon themselves to assist the first responders,” Hatch said. “I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we all hope and pray for Jim’s successful recovery.”

Wyden also expressed his concern for Lyons on Wednesday.

"The reality is today we take up very important legislation, but the fact is our loved ones always have to come first,” he said.

Lyons joined the Finance Committee in 2008 as a staffer for Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the panel's ranking Republican at the time. Hatch described him as “a smart, tough-but-very-fair tax policy expert with a very quick and mischievous wit.”

Tuesday's charity game was later canceled and the Smith Center was cleared out, Miller said.

There was no talk of rescheduling the event at the time of publication.

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