Henrico County police officer Jonathan Turner sprung into action last week when he saw a man had collapsed in the parking lot of the Cook Out restaurant in Short Pump.
Around 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday, the four-year veteran of the police division was off-duty, wearing plain clothes and had been spending time with his family when they pulled into the fast-food chain. Turner said his wife knew he would want to help and occupied their 3-year-old son while Turner did what he’s trained to do.
“Knowing me, she already had it lined up,” he said, recounting the story on Monday. “She was like: ‘Park the car, I’ll turn it off, get our son and go inside, and try to distract him from whatever’s going on.’”
Turner had previously helped a member of his church who had a seizure while he was off-duty, and has administered CPR twice while on-duty.
Several people were standing around the 79-year-old man, including his wife, but none knew how to perform CPR, Turner said, so he jumped in. Another person had called 911 and was relaying information from Turner to the first responders, who showed up minutes later.
“Seconds matter,” Turner said Monday.
The man had no pulse and was not breathing with Turner began CPR. But once the fire department took over with more advanced aid, they revived the man, whom his daughter identified as John Luck Jr.
Luck was taken to the hospital, where he spent two days in intensive care and a third day in recovery, his daughter, Lisa Gravitt, said in a phone interview Monday.
“He’s home recovering,” said Gravitt, adding that since the family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner was delayed, they celebrated Sunday. “He’s improving a little bit every day. All he can talk about is wanting to thank [Turner].”
Once firefighters took over, Turner said he went into Cook Out to eat with his family, ordering what he called “his staple” — barbecue, hush puppies and a quesadilla.
The day after the incident, Gravitt took to Facebook hoping to find Turner and thank him for saving her father.
“I had no idea it would go viral like that,” she said.
The post has been shared more than 100 times, and made it to the police division’s top brass, who called Turner.
“It’s usually a bad thing when they call,” he said. But when he heard about Gravitt’s post, Turner responded to her via Facebook.
“A lot of times, we’re not able to follow up with medical situations, just because of privacy issues and things like that,” Turner said in the interview Monday. “It was a lot of talking back and forth, realizing how much divine providence was involved in the whole situation, to making our 3-year-old go out even though he didn’t want to, to leaving the park a few minutes early, to pulling into the parking lot what I think is mere seconds after he had his medical incident.”
Gravitt agrees Turner was in the right place at the right time for a reason.
“It was a stranger that just appeared out of nowhere and saved my dad’s life. He was there and they were gone,” Gravitt said of Turner. Of first responders, in general, she said: “They deserve more credit than they get sometimes. They are there to serve the community, and that’s what he did.”
To being called a hero, Turner said: “I’m just doing what any other officer or firefighter would have done in the exact same situation. You’re just doing what you’re trained to do.”
Turner and Gravitt both spoke of the importance of CPR. Gravitt said her mother plans to get certified.
Turner plans to reunite with Luck once he’s feeling better and to bring his wife and son. The couple have tried to shelter their son from some aspects of Turner’s job, but a few days after the incident, the boy asked about “the man who wasn’t feeling well.”
“It was great to tell him that he’s feeling better,” Turner said.