LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A DJ from Wood-Ridge, New Jersey had a lot to be thankful for Saturday night, after three off-duty first responders saved his life when he collapsed to the ground.
As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, it happened Friday night at a St. Patrick’s Day-themed event.
There was a hug of thanks a day later from a Lyndhurst restaurant owner to someone he will forever call a hero – first responder Dominick Rotondo.
Rotondo saved DJ Dick Italiano, 74, with CPR at the Friday night event when Italiano was in cardiac arrest.
“When he left the restaurant, he was actually — didn’t necessarily seem like he wanted to go to the hospital, and he left high-fiving people on the way out,’” Rotondo said.
Italiano is a vivacious doo wop DJ who recently retired from his limousine business. His daughter, Tiffany, said three heroes helped administer CPR – all of them Lyndhurst first responders who were off duty.
“The doctors said it was a large heart attack. He’s lucky to be alive,” said Tiffany Italiano. “If the first responders that were there weren’t there, I wouldn’t have my dad.”
Italiano did not know he had two clogged arteries until he had the heart attack. It happened inside Michael’s Riverside restaurant, at 528 Riverside Ave. in Lyndhurst.
Italiano had been volunteering his time as a DJ for a local mayoral fundraiser.
“Everybody was – people were screaming; it was out of control,” said Township of Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso.
With the DJ booth set up in front of a window, witnesses said Italiano grabbed some and broke the rod as he fell to the floor.
Prior to that, witnesses said Italiano had been dancing the night away while playing 1950s and ’60s tunes. That is one of his favorite pastimes, second to being with his grandchildren.
“Thank you for saving my pop-pop,” said grandson Ky Italiano, 5.
“Really, it was a miracle,” added restaurant owner Michael Mateen. “At one point, he was really out. He was really done. And all of a sudden, these heroes; these people did an amazing job – a miracle at Michael’s Riverside. Feels great.”
It may feel even more so to those who don’t want to be called heroes.