17-year-old saves man's life after heart attack

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SHELBY, N.C.,None — Kip Smith can't recall much about the night of Nov. 29. He remembered playing wallyball at the Dover Foundation YMCA in Shelby. He followed other players out the door to get a drink of water.

Smith didn't remember fellow player, Paul Owen, trying to introduce himself.

He didn't remember his 6 foot 5 inch frame falling back on the racquetball floor.

He didn't remember a 17-year-old girl who hovered over him and helped bring him back to life.

Cleveland Community College student Lydia Mellentine, who earned her CPR certification about a month earlier, gave Smith CPR after Smith suffered a heart attack. The 5 foot 8 inch tall teenager from Shelby performed chest compressions until paramedics arrived. Owen helped.

"He stopped breathing. He turned a shade of purple I never saw before," Owen said.

Meeting again

All three met again for the first time at Smith's home Dec. 20. ‘Get Well Soon' balloons floated in the living room. When Mellentine walked through the door, Smith hugged her. Mellentine's body disappeared under the embrace.

"I never expected to use CPR this early," she said. "I was so scared I was doing it wrong. We only practiced on mannequins in class."

Mellentine said the three minutes she spent pressing into Smith's chest felt like hours.

Doctors told Smith three of his arteries were blocked 100 percent. Smith, 51, had open heart surgery Dec. 6.

"It's pretty wild meeting her," Smith said. "I'm thankful someone was there who knew what they were doing."

Smith said Mellentine performed the chest compressions right. It was the only pain he felt in the hospital. All three let out a slight laugh.

Before they departed, Mellentine revealed the secret to doing chest compressions.

"In class, our instructor taught us to do chest compressions in a rhythm," she said.

What rhythm? She sang "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees in her head as she pushed into Smith's chest, helping to save his life.