Humble hero credits ‘right spot, right time’
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – Like so many others on Dec. 24, 2012, Ted Coghlin and his granddaughter Roselyn were out doing last-minute errands. But when they pulled into the parking lot of the Stop & Shop on Route 9 in Shrewsbury, things quickly went awry when Coghlin suffered a sudden medical emergency. But thanks to the quick actions of one man, Charlie Lemay, what could have ended in tragedy instead ended in the best gift Coghlin and his family could ever get – his life was saved.
Recently Lemay, a Shrewsbury mailman who now lives in Connecticut with his wife and daughter, recalled the events of that afternoon and how he happened to be in the “right spot at the right time.”
“I had overslept that day so I was running behind,” he said. “I needed to go to the store to get an ingredient for dinner so I stopped at Stop & Shop. I got out of my car and all of a sudden heard a little girl crying ‘Grampie! Grampie! Someone help my grandfather! ’”
“I looked over and I could see a man slumped against his car. It was evident that he was having a heart attack,” he said.
Lemay rushed over and, upon noticing the man was not breathing and did not have a pulse, immediately started CPR until the paramedics arrived.
What he did not know at the time was the man was Edwin ”Ted” B. Coghlin Jr., a well-known businessman who for years headed his family’s company Coghlin Construction Services.
Coghlin is also a noted philanthropist, who has donated so much of his time and money to many organizations in his hometown of Shrewsbury as well as Worcester. Although Lemay said he had certainly heard of Coghlin, he did not know at the time whose assistance he was coming to that afternoon. All he knew was that a man was in distress and needed his help.
“I had taken a CPR course years ago,” he said, “but it was amazing how it all came back to me. It was very clear. I just kind of followed a checklist in my mind of what to do. And then he started breathing. Everything worked out.”
In a recent interview, Coghlin’s wife Maureen noted that her husband had not been feeling very well that day but attributed it to the business of running errands.
“He had never had any problems similar to this [incident],” she said.
“Thank God [Lemay] was there,” she added. “We are very grateful to him.”
She also praised her granddaughter who was only 11 at the time.
“She didn’t panic,” Maureen said. “She did the right thing by calling for help. We are very proud of her.”
Although her husband has “slowed down a bit,” he is now doing well, she added.
Looking back, Lemay said he is still amazed at how the circumstances of his day ended up in such an extraordinary outcome.
“I was running late and needed something from the store, so I ended up in the parking lot at that exact time,” he said. “And as it turns out I didn’t even need what I had gone to the store for in the first place – I had some at home!”
“But I guess it was just meant to be – everything just fell into place for me to be there at that time,” he said.
For his efforts, Lemay was honored by the American Red Cross at the 2014 Hometown Heroes Breakfast held at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston April 16 with a CPR – Life Saving Category award. Joining him in the celebration were members of the grateful Coghlin family, including Ted and Maureen.
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