Sailor hailed as hero for life-saving actions

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 22:00:12-04

A Navy corpsman is being hailed as a hero for his actions during a middle school ceremony.

David Cook was not feeling well at his son's eighth-grade graduation at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, so he sat down on a bench. Then, he reached for his heart and collapsed.

Justin Viramonte was inside the office waiting for his son.

"Somebody came in and said a man fell down outside," Viramonte said.

He called for the nurse and ran out to help.

"He wasn't breathing on his own," Viramonte said. "I had to give him breaths."

Without CPR, Viramonte said he would have only had 10 minutes to live, at the most.

Cook was close to death, as he had no pulse and was turning blue. Viramonte performed CPR until an ambulance pulled up 15 minutes later.

"I don't remember anything," Cook said. "I woke up in the hospital five days later."

Cook learned he had a fully blocked artery and had a heart attack, from which he should have died.

"If it wasn't for Justin, I truly believe I wouldn't be here today," Cook said.

That would have shattered a lot of hearts.

"It's hard to think about not being there for your children," added Cook, a father of five.

"He is a good dad," Cook's daughter said.

She is the youngest and the only girl. Cook is relieved he can now give her away at her wedding someday.

"Thank you," she said as she looked at Viramonte.

Viramonte has saved many U.S. troops, but this was different.

"I've never had anybody thank me for saving their life before," Viramonte said.

Cook turned to him and said, "You're my hero, you're my angel and I just can't thank you enough. Thank you brother."

Cook cannot pay him back, so he hopes to pay it forward.

"To have somebody save my life and not expect anything in return … it's amazing," Cook added.