American Airlines Employee Saves Two Lives in One Day

American Airlines Employee Saves Two Lives in One Day

CHARLOTTE, NC--Most people go through life never facing the challenge of saving a life. On Tuesday, an American Airlines employee got the airline’s Real American Hero Award for saving not just one, but two lives in separate incidents, on the same night at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Christofer Hatcu, a former volunteer firefighter, says he is no hero. “I just helped someone who really needed help,” he said.

But Paul Gonnelli might disagree, saying he is alive because of what Hatcu did last January 22. Gonnelli who is also an American employee was flying through Charlotte and was at the gate changing planes when he suffered cardiac arrest. He doesn’t remember any of it but says he was told later that Hatcu, who was trained in CPR, jumped right in to help him. “There were a lot of people around,” he says he was told. “Everybody was on their phones yelling for help, and he knew exactly what to do.”

When Courtney Martinson from MEDIC arrived, he took over, but says there is no question Gonnelli lived because of what Hatcu did. “Bystander CPR is absolutely the most important thing when it comes to a cardiac arrest,” said Martinson.

That would seem like the end of the story, but it’s not. It was about to play out again with another person at the airport having cardiac arrest. Hatcu recalled the moment saying, “I did not believe it. They said there was another heart attack ten gates down. I said, ‘No way. This never happens.’” Hatcu ran down to that gate and for the second time that night helped save a life because he knew CPR.

During the ceremony to thank him, both Hatcu and Gonnelli said they wished more people would take the time to learn CPR. “Everybody really needs to know about CPR because you never know when you are going to need it and when you can help save somebody’s life,” said Gonnelli.


More coverage...

Mission & Vision

The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

SCA Newsletter

Sign Up with the SCA Foundation News in order to stay informed! (* required field)

Contact Us

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation would like to hear from you! If you have questions or comments — Contact Us!


Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
7500 Brooktree Road
Wexford, PA 15090

Copyright © 2019 Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Web Design & Development, & Web Hosting By FastWebEngine