(WAKE FOREST, N.C.) — The Anytime Fitness gym in Wake Forest, N.C., has more than 300 members, but if a very specific three members had not walked in the moment last month that a fellow member fell off the treadmill and hit his head, he likely would have died.
“I give thanks to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for putting this family in that position to be able to save me,” the member, Carlos Ruiz, told local ABC affiliate WTVD. “Because if not, I really shouldn’t and wouldn’t have been here today.”
The family who saved the life of Ruiz, 57, were a mother and her two daughters, all of whom are in the medical industry, who walked into the gym just as Ruiz suffered heart failure and flew off the back of his treadmill, landing on his head.
Ruiz had been alone in the cardio area of the gym on an early Sunday morning last month when Merrie Gough, a registered nurse, and her two daughters, Danielle, a dental school student, and Elizabeth, a nursing student, arrived.
“He was unresponsive, wasn’t breathing and had no pulse,” Merrie Gough told WTVD. ”We opened the airway and started basic life support for him.”
As Merrie Gough delivered life support, one of her daughters called 911. Ruiz was transported to a local hospital, the same hospital he was recently discharged from after undergoing two heart surgeries.
“He was lucky that the three individuals walked in when they did,” the gym’s manager, Anna Yeager, told ABC News, adding that the gym is not staffed on Sundays as members have a key that allows them 24-hour access to the gym.
“He was very lucky,” said Yeager, who noted Ruiz is a longtime member of the gym. “He very easily could have been there and no one would have seen him.”
Ruiz, who reunited with the Goughs this week to thank them, says he is seeing his recovery as a second chance at life.
“Today, I have an opportunity, a second chance, to move on with my life and make a difference,” Ruiz told WTVD. “I am very lucky to be alive.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Ivaylo Vezenkov, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN
AJ Willingham, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN