KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville priest is being hailed a hero after saving a man who collapsed during lunch Monday afternoon at Aubrey's Restaurant off Northshore Drive.
Father David Boettner of Sacred Heart Cathedral says what started as a peaceful lunch with friends, quickly turned into a desperate situation.
"They started calling out to a doctor, so I climbed over the booth and I could see that this gentleman was unconscious," Boettner said.
Walter Fitzgerald Jr., who works at South College, had stopped breathing. Boettner sprang into action, trying to save his life by doing CPR.
"One of his coworkers and I started working on him. She was doing mouth to mouth and I was doing the chest compressions," Boettner said.
But Fitzgerald still wasn't breathing.
"I was very scared for him, and I was worried that this was not going to end well," Boettner said.
Father Joe Reed was there eating lunch with Boettner and says as quickly as things turned bad, they got better.
"All of a sudden the man just came to. It was very dramatic, but it was wonderful to see how quickly Father David jumped into action," Reed said.
"I was so excited. I was so overwhelmed that he was breathing again," Boettner said.
Now, Boettner is preaching about the importance of CPR training.
"I would encourage anybody that can to learn CPR because those first few minutes when somebody has a heart attack are absolutely critical, and if you can be there to help somebody what a gift that is," Boettner said.
Fitzgerald is being treated at UT Medical Center. He was listed in stable condition Monday night.