RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A North Carolina Department of Transportation worker is being hailed as a hero after helping to save a man's life.
The worker, Heath Pittman, was recognized in Raleigh on Thursday for his life-saving efforts. Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette presented Pittman with an Extra Mile Award during a meeting of the N.C. Board of Transportation.
Back in July, Pittman left his Hoke County home and like many of us do from time to time, decided that day to take a different route to work.
Maybe it was coincidence, maybe it was fate, but as Pittman drove near Bayonet At Puppy Creek, a golf course off U.S. 401 between Raeford and Fayetteville, he noticed someone lying motionless on the ground.
The quick-thinking Pittman stopped his car and dialed 911 as he hurried toward the man. A few bystanders were nearby. Pittman immediately began to administer CPR, giving the man chest compressions for several minutes.
Soon, another person --a nurse -- passed through the area and stopped to help. She relieved Pittman of doing chest compressions while he held the phone up for her so the 911 telecommunicator could guide her. Then, first responders with the Puppy Creek Fire Department arrived.
The man, 64-year-old Ray Cooper of Fayetteville, soon regained consciousness. He recovered after spending a week in a Fayetteville hospital.
Cooper had collapsed while walking on a trail and had stopped breathing. His wife, Daisy, later said her husband went into cardiac arrest and when he fell, he hit his head.
In late July, Pittman learned the man's identity and went to meet the Coopers at their Fayetteville home
"I cried and embraced him, and wouldn't let him go," Daisy Cooper said.
She said doctors told her that Pittman's actions to quickly begin chest compressions "saved (Cooper's) life."
The Coopers told NCDOT in September that they were grateful for Pittman and everyone else who played a role in Ray Cooper's medical rescue.
Because of scheduling conflicts, NCDOT had to wait months to present Pittman with the award, which recognizes NCDOT employees for exceeding their duties.
Pittman is a traffic signal technician supervisor and has been with NCDOT for 17 years.
"It blesses my heart each time the story is told," Ray Cooper said.
Pittman said the unexpected situation was miraculous.
"I wasn't trying to be a hero when I stopped," Pittman said. "I was just glad I was there to be able to help someone else."