On October 9 at about 11 a.m., two ambulances arrived at the San Diego County Library in Encinitas after two senior citizens — who were attending a speech given by actor Richard Dreyfuss — became ill.
Dreyfuss, keynote speaker for this year's San Diego County Library Book Festival, addressed more than 200 people who were packed into the small auditorium. About 30 onlookers stood at the back of the room and even more took seats on the patio to hear Dreyfuss talk about issues regarding our country and why he thinks it’s in trouble.
"We as Americans have lost our way," he said. "We have forgotten the very basic fundamental values that have enabled us to be the wonderful and most-sought-after nation in the world, not only for economic opportunities but, more importantly, for its freedoms."
Later in the speech, according to an audience member, “There was an older gentleman three rows in front of us who became distressed. [I think] someone said ‘heart attack,’ but I'm not sure. The paramedics were called. Two others in the audience went to assist until the paramedics arrived. It seemed they kept calling to the gentleman to try to keep him conscious.
“Once the EMTs arrived, they carried the [victim] out in his chair as to not disturb the others in the room. He was being treated but I am not sure if he was transported.
“Later, toward the end of the presentation, a woman from the back of the room was removed on a gurney.” According to witnesses, the second victim became dizzy during the question-and-answer portion of Dreyfuss’s presentation, thus requiring a second ambulance.
"Richard, can you hold on for two seconds?" a library employee asked. "We have an emergency." Dreyfuss waited for a few minutes before resuming with his comments.