ST. LOUIS - A Jefferson County man is alive today, at least in part, because of the quick actions of a neighbor. The neighbor, who also happens to be a fire chief, performed CPR on the man as he was suffering a heart attack until paramedics arrived.
As he was getting ready for bed on Oct. 4, Dale Mignerone collapsed in the bathroom of his Imperial home. Mignerone's son, Jason, rushed to his side.
"The most fear I've ever seen in someone's face," said Jason Mignerone. "Eyes wide open, gasping to breathe."
Jason's fiancé, Amanda Gansert, called 911 while Jason ran across the street to the home of Brad Williams, Fire Chief for the Dunklin Fire Protection District. Chief Williams said he heard someone pounding on the front door and went to see what the commotion was.
"He was frantically saying, 'My dad needs help, my dad needs help,'" said Williams.
The two men rushed across the street to Mignerone's house.
"Brad comes running in with no shoes on, no socks on, and immediately pulls Dale out of the bathroom and starts doing CPR," said Gansert.
Williams' team from the Dunklin Fire Protection District arrived minutes later and got Mignerone's heart beating again. He was taken to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
Mignerone was in a coma for nearly two weeks. Doctors did not think he would make it.
"I guess it just wasn't my time," said Mignerone.
After four weeks in the hospital, Mignerone returned home with five stents in three arteries. He said he is feeling better and working to rebuild his strength. He is looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with his family; something he may have missed out on had Williams not been in the right place at the right time.
"Seconds count, and they really do count," said Williams. "Dale's living proof. I mean, it's very important.'
Williams will compete in the annual Guns and Hoses fundraiser benefiting Backstoppers on Wednesday (Nov. 21) at the Enterprise Center. Mignerone and his family will be in the crowd at the sold-out event cheering on Williams in the ring.
Mignerone's family tells Fox 2 they plan to get CPR certified to show their appreciation for first responders.
"Without them, we'd all be in trouble," Mignerone said.