Lakeville North graduate dies after rescue from house fire

Matt Heisler died after heroic rescue, resuscitation efforts by his roommate

A Lakeville North High School graduate died March 18 after his roommate rescued him from an early morning fire March 16.

Matthew Heisler
Matthew Heisler

Matthew Heisler, a University of North Dakota junior, was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center after a roommate pulled him from their burning house near the UND campus, according to his CaringBridge website.

Heisler’s family wrote that the 21 year-old’s roommate Ryan Nelson returned home around 2:40 a.m., saw smoke in the windows and ran to the back of the house, broke a window to Heisler’s room and climbed inside.

Nelson reportedly forced his way through heavy smoke, searching for Heisler, found him and carried him from the house.

Once outside, Nelson realized Heisler had no pulse and administered CPR until his heart restarted.

Nelson took Heisler to the hospital in Grand Forks, where Heisler went into cardiac arrest again. He was immediately airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center where he had been in a hyperbaric chamber, according to his CaringBridge page.

Ryan Nelson of Eagan risked his own life to pull his roommate Matt Heisler from a fire and performed CPR that revived him temporarily.  Photo submitted
Ryan Nelson of Eagan risked his own life to pull his roommate Matt Heisler from a fire and performed CPR that temporarily revived him.  Photo submitted

The family reported he had been fighting for his life in intensive care and died Tuesday morning.

“This morning we had to say goodbye to our beloved son,” his parents Jared and Cheryl Heisler wrote in a statement released by the hospital. “In accordance with his wishes, his organs will be donated so that others can live.

“We just cannot express how much we will miss Matthew, and how the thought of going through the rest of our lives without him is beyond what we can imagine right now.

“We want to thank everyone who has prayed for Matthew and supported us during this difficult time. Please continue to pray for those who will be blessed by life-giving transplants from Matthew, and for his family and friends.”

Lakeville Schools Superintendent Lisa Snyder said Matthew’s sister Casey Heisler is a senior at Lakeville North, and the family had been keeping in touch with the school regarding his medical condition.

She said Lakeville North Principal Marne Berkvam held a moment of silence at 9 a.m. when he was disconnected from life support in the hospital.

“Matt was a standout student and athlete whiel at North,” Berkvam said in an email to district staff.

In December, Lakeville North junior Alyssa Ettl died in an accident driving to school, a tragedy the community is still mourning.

“It’s been a tough year for us with student deaths,” Snyder said. “Again, we’ll just come together and be srong for it and be there for each other. That’s all we can do.”