As a U.S. Air Force veteran, Colorado State University health and exercise science student Aaron Leyte is trained in how to respond in an emergency. He just never expected to use his training to save a family member’s life.
In August 2015, Leyte was hiking with his uncle to Estes Cone, near Longs Peak. About a half mile from the summit, his uncle wanted to rest for a moment, but suddenly went face down, stopped breathing and had no pulse. Leyte began performing CPR and after 15 minutes, his uncle developed a shallow heartbeat and gasping respiration. Leyte knew he needed to find help, but there were no other hikers in sight.
He left his uncle in a recovery position and ran down the trail to the ranger station. When he returned, his uncle’s condition was still the same. A medical transport helicopter took his uncle to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, where he was treated for a heart attack.
Not only did his uncle survive but has made a full recovery. To celebrate, the two returned to the same hike in Estes Cone exactly one year later. Leyte was recognized by the Air Force for his heroic efforts and received a Commendation Ribbon.
A break from higher education
Leyte grew up in Broomfield, attended Metro State University and spent a semester at Front Range Community College. He then decided to take a break from higher education and, in 2012, enlisted in the Air Force to serve his community and country.
Leyte enrolled at CSU in spring 2015 to pursue his passion for serving others with a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science. His experience saving his uncle has focused his career goal on working in a cardiovascular rehabilitation setting.
“I always knew I wanted to attend Colorado State University,” Leyte said. “I have family in Fort Collins and grew up loving the city and university.”
Leyte is currently a member of the Colorado Air National Guard at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, where he has participated in fatality search and recovery teams and disaster recovery missions.
“My professors have been nothing but supportive,” Leyte said. “I have a constantly changing schedule and must always be on alert with my job in the military. I was activated last semester by Gov. Hickenlooper, and my teachers supported me through the entire thing. They made it easy to keep caught up in class.”
After graduation, he and his fiancée, who is also his high school sweetheart, are moving to Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, where he will intern at Wuesthoff Health System in the cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation unit. The couple plan to marry in Denver this summer.