Top prosecutor suffers massive stroke; back at work

Ebron's prosecutor said stroke was caused by a genetic issue

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of Jacksonville's top prosecutors said he's recovering well after suffering a massive stroke several weeks ago.

Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei shared his story about having a stroke while in the middle of an intense workout.

The 45-year-old said he survived because of the quick thinking of his trainers as well as paramedics and doctors.

“This could have very easily been a headstone,” Mantei said pointing to gym equipment. “And that would've been it. You could bury me here. That was it. RIP.”

When Mantei collapsed during a workout at the HIT Center on Jacskonville’s Southside on Dec. 12, a personal trainer immediately called 911. Rescuers rushed him to Baptist Medical Center South. Mantei was transferred by helicopter to Baptist Medical Downtown Jacksonville where doctors discovered he had suffered a massive ischemic stroke. This is basically a blood clot in the brain.

Within less than one week of the stroke, Mantei was back at the gym where it happened. Mantei also returned to work a day after being released from the hospital and said he was there because he wanted to be, not because he had to.

Mantei remembered the events leading up to his hospitalization. He said he was working out like he’s been doing for years that particular Saturday morning.

“As I came around my left side went whoop. So all I could think of was I wanted water. I came over here I grab my water bottle and then basically that was it,” Mantei said. “That's all I really remember.”

The trainers present immediately ran to help Mantei.

“He was very incoherent,” said Molly Grund, a personal trainer. “He started wobbling around a little bit.”

Roderic Blunt, another personal trainer said, “We laid him down on the floor. Put his legs up a bit.”

While none of the trainers had ever had this experience firsthand, they recognized Mantei was having a stroke and he needed help fast. Grund called 911, and dispatchers advised her not to move him unless he was in danger, not to hold him down, put anything in his mouth and to move any dangerous objects out the way.

Mantei is thankful for those trainers, a nurse who was also working out when it happened plus the paramedics and surgeons who saved him.

“It is because I was here. And it is because of the people here. And it is because of that medical team that treated me,” Mantei said.​

According to Mantei, the stroke was caused by a genetic issue, not stress from the job or the intensity of his workout.

“If anybody thought this would kill me, knock me off or that I would be going anywhere, I hate to disappoint, but this place and those doctors intervened to kind of put me back on track,” Mantei said.

But bed rest isn't on Mantei's to-do list; he's back to prosecuting some of North Florida's biggest court cases. In the coming weeks, Mantei will be focusing on the cases related to the disappearance of toddler Lonzie Barton. His mother, Lonna Barton and her boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, are facing child neglect and other charges.

Lonna Barton’s attorney confirmed Tuesday afternoon that she is accepting a plea agreement made with prosecutors. Five months later, Lonzie Barton’s body still has not been found and many people are hoping his mother and her boyfriend get charged with his death.

“I think some people have a perception that we have to walk into court in January and prove that this is a murder,” Mantei said. “As of right now that is just not the case.”








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