SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-Athletic competition turned into united prayers Thursday night in South St. Louis County when a soccer referee collapsed and later died. A doctor from the bleachers followed by paramedics worked to revive Jim Duniven. He had fallen on the Lindbergh High School field during a varsity game between Lindbergh and Kirkwood.
The 59-year old Duniven had been a soccer referee for 16 years. Lindbergh soccer team captain Patrick Ries recalled him refereeing many of his games.
It took a few moments for players and fans to realize there was a medical emergency happening before their eyes. A penalty kick had just been ordered and a Lindbergh Flyer player was on the ground grabbing his knee.
But when Ries realized one of his coaches was urging people to call 9-1-1, he knew something was wrong.
"I kind of got my team together. We said let's just get together ...our circle started up; we started praying. One of my teammates told me, 'Let's get Kirkwood involved'."
Within a matter of minutes as the volunteers and paramedics began to deliver CPR to Duniven, the two teams met on the field, knelt and began to pray.
Ries pointed out the team members all knew that the "situation was out of our control so the only thing we could do was pray and the whole team decided that was the best thing we could do at the time."
He added the varsity team prays regularly, before every game.
His mother, Vicki Ries said, "It just showed a lot of character I believe on their part and they know what the important things in life are I believe so it was just a nice thing to see."
She praised the soccer coaches for working to build character among their players as well as athletic skill.
"I thought maybe his wife or family would find comfort in knowing that these boys were praying for him."
The visitation for Mr. Duniven will be at the Kutis Funeral Home in Affton Monday from 3pm to 8pm.