Girl’s split-second decision helps save man’s life in Shrewsbury

SHREWSBURY, MA (WHDH) - A man thanked a mother and her daughter after the girl’s quick-thinking saved his life.

Joe Flak was at Shrewsbury High School to watch his daughter compete in a gymnastics meet when he collapsed in the stands. Fifth-grader Riley Olander was on the way to get her mother a drink when she said she saw Flak in trouble. Riley said she heard people calling for a nurse.

“My mom told me to go get her a drink and I didnt’ even get halfway up the stairs and they were all panicking up there so I went to get back to my mom,” said Riley.

Riley’s mother Amy O’Connor is a registered nurse at UMass Medical Center. O’Connor said Riley had just learned about CPR in health class at school so it was fresh in her mind when she went and told her what happened.

O’Connor performed CPR on Flak until an ambulance showed up. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was revived. He is expected to make a full recovery and will be able to celebrate his 71st birthday at home. Before Flak headed home Monday, he thanked Riley and her mother for their help, calling them his heroes.

“She and her daughter are my hero for going out of the way and I look at it like they saved my life,” said Flak.

Flak said doctors ruled out a heart attack and stroke and are waiting for test results to see what exactly happened.

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