- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - State Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund was awake and in good spirits on Wednesday after he collapsed at a leadership meeting and was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance, his family said.

Okerlund was meeting with members of the Senate and House when he said he felt light-headed and left the room.

Lawmakers and legislative staff members found him awake but on the ground in a hallway moments later and believed he had fainted, Senate spokesman Ric Cantrell said.

Okerlund was conscious when emergency workers reached the Capitol, Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay said. When the lawmaker reached the hospital, he was in critical but stable condition.

Legislators who are medically trained attended to the senator until paramedics arrived. They included Rep. Ed Redd and Sen. Brian Shiozawa, an emergency room doctor, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser later announced on the Senate floor that Okerlund had suffered a “medical event,” but he did not elaborate.

Niederhauser spoke in a measured, emotional voice, thanking the lawmakers who cared for Okerlund and the Highway Patrol, which provides Capitol security. Legislative clerks and others had tears in their eyes.

After the announcement, Sen. John Valentine led the Senate in a prayer.

Okerlund has had health problems in the past. He had a heart attack in November 2012, just before he was chosen as majority leader, the Tribune previously reported.

Utah lawmakers are a day away from finishing the 2014 legislative session. They are scheduled to adjourn Thursday night at midnight.

Okerlund’s family said in their statement that he is not expected to return to the Capitol before lawmakers adjourn Thursday night.

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