‘Longest four minutes of my life’: Man with autism credited with saving NH crash victim

SALEM, N.H. (WHDH) - A man with autism is being credited with helping to save the life of a crash victim after springing into action and performing CPR on the side of the road in Salem, New Hampshire.

“Some guy was checking his pulse and said, ‘He’s not going to make it,” Robert Merrill told 7News, “And I said, ‘Yes he will, he’s going to survive this!'”

When Merrill came upon the crash scene, no first responders were there. Merrill and other witnesses had to act fast.

“I said, watch out. I just ripped the shirt and started giving him chest compressions, one one thousand, two one thousand, you know? It was the longest four minutes of my life!” Merrill said.

The driver, John Rawcliffe, of Salem, had a medical emergency, lost control of the car, and flipped over, according to police.

“I said, ‘Dude, hang in there, hang in there.’ He started to breathe on his own, his color was coming back,” Merrill said.

Salem Fire Chief Lawrence Best believes Merrill’s actions saved Rawcliffe’s life.

“Mr. Merrill’s actions were tremendous,” Best said. “He gave the patient the best chance of survivability by performing bystander CPR.”

Rawcliffe suffered a collapsed lung, three fractured ribs, and bruised lungs in the crash, according to his daughter. He is being treated at a Boston hospital.

Merrill says he’s been in a similar situation before.

“I saved my grandmother’s life at the age of 12,” Merrill said.

Along with being a lifesaver, Merrill is developmentally delayed with autism.

Merrill says he learned CPR from watching television shows like “Rescue 911” and even used it on a person who overdosed in his neighborhood.

“There are angels among us,” Merrill said, “I happen to be one of them.”

Merrill says he called on a higher power while performing CPR on Rawcliffe.

“As I was doing compressions, I was praying for him,” Merrill said. “I asked God to forgive him of his sins, and I asked to give him a second chance at life. I don’t give up on the people.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Rawcliffe. To donate, click here.

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