Bergen man saves woman who went into cardiac arrest at Brockport Walmart

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. An ordinary shopping trip to Walmart last Friday turned into a matter of life and death for a Greece woman. Thankfully, the right man was in the right place, with the right skills to save her life.

Joanne and Russell Williams of Greece were shopping at the Walmart in Brockport on Friday when the ordinary outing quickly turned into a crisis.

“My father called and he was panicking and he’s like, ‘your mother, your mother just collapsed,’” recalls their daughter Cheryl Antonacci.

Joanne had gone into cardiac arrest in the deli section of the store.

“My father was like, ‘I turned around and your mother was on the floor’ and I’m like ‘what’s going on?’ He was like in shock,” Antonacci says.

Her dad told her that during the chaos, a man ran over to check Joanne for a pulse and when he didn’t find one, he begin doing CPR right away.

“This man just was like an angel that came out nowhere,” she says.

The man continued chest compressions on the floor of Walmart until paramedics arrived and used an AED to get Joanne’s heart going again. Once she was loaded up on the ambulance, he walked away.

All the family knew was that his name was Steve.

“She (Joanne) is recovering slowly but she’s still all there and that’s the important part,” says Joanne’s son-in-law, Jason. “If Steve wasn’t there, she would’ve been out for a lot longer without the blood flow. Doctors said it could’ve been so much worse for her so, we’re so lucky that Steve was there.”

“There was no second thought, he just jumped right in and took control,” Antonacci says, “He’s my mom’s hero.”

Through Facebook, the Antonacci’s discovered that the hero was Steve Friday, a retired man from Bergen who has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 20 years.

News10NBC was there when the Antonacci’s met the Friday family back at the Walmart to say thank you.

“I was looking for cold cuts, that’s my favorite food and we came around the corner and saw somebody, Joanne down on the floor, kind of like in a sitting position,” Friday told News10NBC.

So he got to work on saving her life. His CPR training expired long ago but it still allowed him to know exactly what to do.

Joanne is still in this hospital but wanted to meet Steve over Facetime too, “thank you, thank you, thank you,” she told him from her hospital bed. “We can’t even tell you how much we appreciate you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I’d give you a kiss if I was there,” she laughed.

It turns out Joanne isn’t the only person whose life has been saved by Steve Friday.

“A little over a year ago, I pulled a woman out of a house fire in our community,” he reluctantly told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke, not wanting credit.

Friday broke down the door of the woman’s home and pulled her from the burning house. 30 years ago, he also performed the Heimlich maneuver on a special needs child to dislodge a piece of food the boy was choking on.

“That’s why I’ve been a volunteer all these years,” he says, “I just enjoy helping people and it’s the right thing to do. I just don’t want any publicity.”

Friday is clearly a modest hero but grateful for the appreciation of Joanne’s family. “You’ll forever be in our hearts, we need more people like you,” Antonacci said as she gave him a hug goodbye.