RALEIGH – Heath Pittman, a N.C. Department of Transportation employee, pulled out of his Hoke County driveway one morning in July, and decided to take a different way into work.
Ray Cooper is grateful he did.
When Pittman saw someone appearing lifeless on the ground, Pittman stopped near Bayonet At Puppy Creek, a golf course off U.S. 401 between Raeford and Fayetteville. Cooper, who is 64, had collapsed while walking on a trail and had stopped breathing.
Pittman dialed 911 as he hurried toward Cooper and a few bystanders. Pittman immediately began to administer CPR, giving Cooper chest compressions for several minutes.
Another Good Samaritan, who was a nurse, happened upon the scene and relieved Pittman of doing chest compressions. He continued to hold the phone for the nurse while a 911 telecommunicator guided her. Soon, first-responders with the Puppy Creek Fire Department took over.
Cooper soon regained consciousness and recovered after spending a week in a Fayetteville hospital.
Pittman later learned who the man was he had saved and would meet Cooper and his wife, Daisy, at their Fayetteville home in late July.
“I cried and embraced him, and wouldn’t let him go,” Daisy Cooper said.
She said her husband went into a cardiac arrest and when he fell, he hit his head. According to Daisy Cooper, the doctor said Pittman’s actions to begin chest compressions shortly after arriving on the scene “saved (Cooper’s) life.”
On Thursday, Pittman traveled to Raleigh to receive recognition for his life-saving efforts. Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette presented him with an Extra Mile Award during a meeting of the N.C. Board of Transportation.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the department had waited until this month to present Pittman with the award, which recognizes NCDOT employees for exceeding their duties.
A 17-year veteran of NCDOT, Pittman is a traffic signal technician supervisor for the Fayetteville-based Highway Division 6.
In an interview with NCDOT in September, the Coopers expressed gratitude for Pittman and everyone else who played a role in Ray Cooper’s medical rescue.
“It was nothing but the Lord leading and directing the people to be at the right place at the right time,” Daisy Cooper said.
Ray Cooper described the ordeal as amazing.
“It blesses my heart each time the story is told,” he said.
Pittman said the unexpected situation was miraculous.
“I wasn’t trying to be a hero when I stopped,” Pittman said. “I was just glad I was there to be able to help someone else.”