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16-year-old credited with saving McHenry man's life

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 5:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 10:35 p.m. CDT
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Megan Ringel

WOODSTOCK –Sixteen-year-old Megan Ringel felt a wave come over her when she delivered the second breath for a man who lay unconscious before her.

Amid a backdrop of cries and yells for help, something was telling Ringel to breathe for him a third and final time.

On the third breath, the man gasped, but he was still not moving. Eventually emergency first responders arrived and took him to the hospital. Had Ringel not rendered CPR, authorities told her, he wouldn't have survived.

The incident happened about 9:20 p.m. Aug. 16. Ringel, of Wauconda, was visiting a friend in the 5000 block of Wildwood Drive in McHenry.

Ringel on Wednesday was honored with the Sheriff's Office Citizen's Lifesaving award, becoming the award's youngest recipient.

The Wauconda High School junior learned CPR in health class, but she never had to use it, nor did she think she ever would.

The man, who was not at Wednesday's ceremony, had a history of seizures. In addition to the three quick rescue breaths, Ringel gave him chest compressions and repositioned his head to open his airway.

When asked what was going through her head at the time, there was little the 16-year-old could say other than "oh my gosh." But her ear-to-ear smile was far more telling.

"I don't want to gloat about it, but saving someone's life is not an average teenage thing to do," she said.

Through her quick thinking, McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said, Ringel saved the 34-year-old man's life. But that's not how Ringel sees it. To her, she saved a 9-year-old girl's daddy – the same little girl who hugged her after the incident and called Ringel her angel.

Ringel is the daughter of proud parents Sheryl and Brian Ringel.

"She's always been the apple of my eye. She's always been beautiful and helped people whether it's in her interest or not," Brian Ringel said.

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