Most people celebrate their birthdays with a night out on the town or by hosting a party with friends and family. But one cruise ship entertainer rang in his 50th year by saving a passenger’s life. 

Pete Matthews, a comedian and juggler, was celebrating his 50th birthday with a week of performances on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas as part of a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas. 

On December 12, 2023, Matthews was grabbing a drink for his wife between shows when he happened to be in the right place at the right time. The entertainer was on his way back to his cabin when he heard a commotion coming from a nearby hallway. 

“These guys, probably in their 30s, were shouting ‘dad, dad, don’t die, dad.’ It was a real panic, and I ran down the corridor, dressed and ready for my show, and saw this chap on the floor, slumped against the wall,” Matthews recalled to the Daily Echo.

The comedian stumbled upon 58-year-old Joe Kutza in cardiac distress. By the time Matthews arrived, the man had turned purple from lack of oxygen. Matthews immediately sprang into action and began administering CPR and chest compressions with the help of another passenger until medics arrived around 5 minutes later.

Anthem of the Seas Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Wayleebird / Shutterstock)

“I was assisted by a firefighter and EMT called Justin and the doctors and medical staff did an amazing job in reviving Joe and getting him medivac’d off the ship in the early hours. I believe Joe has since had a pacemaker fitted,” Matthews commented on his Facebook page.

Luckily for the distressed passenger and his family, Matthews was well versed in first aid and CPR as part of his Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) course, a subject he first started pursuing over 20 years ago. 

Once help arrived, Matthews had to turn his attention to his next performance, but couldn’t keep his mind off the ailing passenger. The entertainer’s hands shook throughout his set.

“The most surreal moment of it all was the fact that 15 minutes after this happened, I’m on stage cracking funnies and making an audience laugh, and they were oblivious to the fact that that had just happened,” Matthews told the Daily Echo. 

After his performance, a crew member informed Matthews that Kutza was recovering in the hospital and that the entertainer’s quick actions saved his life. Matthews immediately burst into tears of joy and relief. 

Pete Matthews

Matthews later visited Kutza in the hospital, where he shared a joyful reunion with Kutza and his family. The entertainer even shared a celebratory drink with Kutza’s loved ones.

“I met the man, Joe, now wired up with a breathing mask on, and was introduced as the man that saved his life,” says Matthews. “He just keeps saying that I was his guardian angel.”

Following the incident, Kutza has returned home to Pennsylvania where he is recovering and continues to stay in touch with Matthews. 

Pete Matthews, who hails from West Parley, has been juggling and entertaining professionally since he was a teenager. The UK native, who can be found on social media as The Crazy Juggler, primarily performs on cruise ships. 

Matthews has sailed all over the world on a variety of different cruise lines, and will be back at sea early next year. 

The comedian announced on his Facebook page that he will be part of Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seasinaugural sailings beginning at the end of January 2024. Icon of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world and is scheduled to embark on her maiden voyage on January 27, 2024.

According to the entertainer’s website, Matthews will be back onboard Anthem of the Seas multiple times throughout 2024, as well as several other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Over the course of the year, he will also perform on Jewel of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas.

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