An Irish rugby fan gave CPR to a man in New Zealand after his heart stopped beating and he collided into several parked cars.
ara Hartigan (42), from Limerick, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to Dean Herewini (56) after his heart stopped as he was driving into Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday.
Ms Hartigan, who is leading a tour of Irish rugby fans around New Zealand, was attending a pre-match party at Eden Park when she heard a crash followed by a scream.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Ms Hartigan told the Otago Daily Times of being able to help Mr. Herewini. “I didn’t know if I was doing it right but it worked out, thank God.”
The former lifeguard and arena manager recalled her training but still wasn’t convinced she was helping Mr Herewini, a Waikato rugby union development officer.
Ms Hartigan gave Mr Herewini mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in his car. He does not recall anything after driving his vehicle into a car park space and clipping a car before crashing into five others as he fell onto the steering wheel.
“We were trying to get the seat back,” Ms Hartigan said. “I couldn’t tell you how long it took but the sweat was pouring off me.
“I was calling out, ‘can you hear me, come back to us’ like you see in the movies. Then it took a massive big breath and just woke up.”
She said the remainder of the evening, which she spent watching the All Blacks defeat Ireland, was a blur.
“I must admit I had a bit of a cry that evening,” she told the newspaper.
Ms Hartigan had only learned she would be in New Zealand a week earlier, after starting a new job.
“The stars certainly aligned for us,” she said.
Mr Herewini’s twin brother, Phil, told the newspaper Ms Hartigan’s quick thinking saved his sibling.
“We’re very lucky that someone like that just jumped into it and did what she did. It could have ended up a little bit messy,” he said.
“You read about these things. You see them on TV but when you experience it first-hand it’s incredible. We’re so humble and grateful.”
Mr Herewini was being treated at Auckland City Hospital. He had been taking his daughter and her friend to the match, when he became ill.
His twin told how his brother had collapsed and “put his right foot down onto the accelerator and was going into the next five cars”.
Mr Herewini’s daughter Kea called her uncle in a panic and that’s when Ms Hartigan rushed over to help.
“This lady came out and came over and noticed he had stopped breathing. She started CPR while he was sitting in the car and he became conscious again,” Kea said.
It was reported in Auckland that his heart had stopped beating for at least a minute.
Ms Hartigan said: “I didn’t know what was going on. His daughter was obviously very upset and crying and calling for help.
“It just happened so fast. People were calling an ambulance but no one was going in and helping. It was just weird.”
Phil Herewini posted a public appeal on the Auckland Irish Club Facebook on Monday to find Ms Hartigan to thank her for saving his brother’s life.
He wrote: “This was a life saving situation and (we’d) really like to pass on our love and thanks to this lady if anyone knows her…”
The pair have since spoken and Ms Hartigan told the newspaper how nice it had been talking to Mr Herewini and hearing his brother was in a “good place”.
She is intending to meet Mr Herewini before she leaves the country later this month.