Vicki Witte and Arturo Melendez.

Seven Iowans were honored Thursday at the Iowa State Fair during the annual governor’s lifesaving awards ceremony.

The honorees included Arturo Melendez, who saved a stranger’s life the day after Christmas. Melendez said he was driving to work from Marion to Cedar Rapids when he noticed other motorists passing a stopped car. He pulled over to see what was wrong and noticed the driver’s eyes were closed.

“She was like in pain or something and then I asked if she was OK, and she was not responding,” Melendez said. Vicki Witte had pulled off the road and became unconscious – later learning she had a heart attack. Because the car’s doors were locked, Melendez smashed a window, dragged Witte out to the pavement, and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. Witte recovered and said she’s alive today because Melendez.

“I’m grateful and I’m thankful and I wish…everything good comes his way because he deserves it,” Witte said. “He saved my life, literally. Saved my life.” Melendez said he didn’t know how to perform CPR, but emulated what he had seen on television shows. You can learn more about the six other Iowans who were honored Thursday with lifesaving awards on the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s website.

(Story and photo by John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio)