State Sen. Ralph Okerlund had an apparent heart attack Wednesday afternoon during a joint leadership meeting.
He was rushed to a local hospital by paramedics, his condition not readily available.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, his voice choking with emotion, opened the afternoon session thanking “those in the body” who gave Okerlund, R-Monroe, medical attention onsite.
While he did not name Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, Shiozawa is an emergency room doctor.
Niederhauser then asked Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, a Mormon bishop, to give a special prayer for Okerlund and his family.
Okerlund, who oversaw the lengthy and stressful assignment in 2011 of being the Senate’s reapportionment chair, suffered a heart attack November of 2012.
In fact, Okerlund was in the hospital as the Senate Republicans voted him majority leader just after the 2012 general election.
Okerlund is a former Monroe City Councilman, the city’s mayor and Sevier County Commissioner. He was first elected to the Senate in 2008.
Niederhauser said the Okerlund family would have a statement later on the senator’s condition.
Okerlund’s family issued the following statement:
Ralph is alert, stable and doing well. He is in good spirits and already joking about coming back and finishing his bills. He said, “I’d go back right now if they’d let me.”
That probably won’t happen. Hospital personnel need to finish some tests and we don’t expect he will return to the Capitol today or tomorrow.
We are deeply, deeply grateful for the prayers offered on Ralph’s behalf. We are also very thankful for the capable reaction and care of his colleagues in the legislature and emergency response personnel.