LUVERNE, MN -
Gene Cragoe did not get to see three of his grandchildren graduate from high school this weekend. The 78-year-old is taking it easy.
"I'm awful sore. Awful sore," Cragoe said, pointing to his shoulder and one of his ribs.
On Tuesday, just after 7 p.m., he was driving his van on Luverne's main drag. He was simply on his way to his office because he wanted to check on something at work.
"Then all of a sudden, I just got a really, really - real quick-like -- funny, dizzy feeling. I thought, 'God, I can't stop right here on the road,'" Cragoe said.
There was no shoulder on the road for him to pull onto, so he drove onto a curb in front of a house. He does not remember this. The impact was pretty minimal, save for a few tire marks on the grass and some disheveled landscaping bricks. Emergency workers arrived on the scene, and he recalls someone knocking on his car window.
Melissa Sterrett saw what was happening from her house, just across the street. She rushed over and tried to help Cragoe out of his car.
"This lady stuck her head over me, and I looked up at her and I said, 'I know you,'" Cragoe said.
"His main concern was the he didn't hit anybody on the sidewalk. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, turned into an ashen gray, and down he went. No pulse," Sterrett said.
Though Sterrett had the day off from her regular job as an EMT, you could say she was moonlighting as Cragoe's guardian angel.
"It all fell into place," Sterrett said.
She performed CPR compressions for two minutes before emergency workers brought out an AED.
"We shocked him, and Gene opened his eyes and started talking," Sterrett said. "He was no pulse for probably two to three minutes."
Cragoe woke up in the hospital. This week is National EMS Week and Cragoe is sending an extra big 'thank you' to the workers who came to his rescue. Here is where this story gets even better. Cragoe's daughter is South Dakota's Regional Advocacy Director for the American Heart Association.
"If she hadn't come along at that time -- those seconds," Pam Cragoe Miller said.
As a professional, Miller has made it her life's work to try encourage everyone she meets to learn CPR. As Cragoe's daughter, she is grateful Sterrett knew what to do.
"The things I advocate for every day in my job, came to play in saving my dad's life," Miller said.
Though he was not there to see his grandchildren get their diplomas, thanks to CPR and some good Samaritans, Cragoe is thankful he will not miss out on anything else.
"Yesterday morning, I said to my wife, 'I would've spent my first night underground.' Life, yeah there's a reason for everything. They're giving me a chance, so I better take advantage of it. It's a scary thing, but I'm here," Cragoe said.
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