Merchandiser saves shopper's life: 'Your heart stopped'

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A Coca-Cola merchandiser was stocking shelves on Wednesday in the soda isle at a Safeway grocery store in Corvallis, and he saved a shopper's life who had a heart attack.

"Just a normal Joe that happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Coca-Cola merchandiser Jesse Looney in front of the Safeway on Circle Blvd. in Corvallis on Friday.

A spokeswoman with Coca-Cola said Looney was filling in for a co-worker on Wednesday.

"It was supposed to be my day off," said Looney.

At the end of his shift late Wednesday morning, Looney said an older male shopper approached him in the soda isle with a question.

"Asked me if we carried Coke Lime in six pack bottles," said Looney.

Just seconds later Looney said the man hunched over onto his shopping cart and reached for a necklace around his neck.

Looney asked the man, "Are you alright? He looks at me and says, I'm going down."

Looney said the necklace around the man's neck contained nitroglycerin tablets. Looney said he handed the man a tablet, ran to get Safeway staff to call 911 and then came back to help the man.

When Looney returned, he said the man had no pulse and was not breathing.

Looney, a volunteer firefighter from Lebanon, Oregon, started CPR immediately.

"And we continued this for three or four sets until the paramedics showed up," said Looney.

The Corvallis Fire Department responded to an EMS call at the Safeway on Circle Blvd. on Wednesday morning around 11:30.

After paramedics revived the man in the grocery store, Looney said the man opened his eyes.

Looney said that's when he told the man, "You died. Your heart stopped. You need to go to the hospital."

Both Coca-Cola and Safeway staff are hailing Looney a hero. But Looney said he was just doing what he was trained to do.

"I hope that if that were me on the floor someone would do the same," said Looney. "Everybody should learn CPR because it may not be a stranger in the soda isle. It maybe your mom, maybe your dad, your brother, your sister or your kids."

Looney said he has not learned the name of the man he saved in Safeway. Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis has not yet responded to inquiries about the victim's identity or condition.