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US Navy Sailor saves civilian who collapsed at CA gym

Navy Counselor 1st Class Ryan P. Lighten (Todd Hack/U.S. Navy)
January 27, 2022

A United States Navy Sailor saved a man’s life while they were working out at the same California gym earlier this month.

According to Navy Talent Acquisition Group Southwest, Navy Counselor 1st Class Ryan P. Lighten, 29, jumped into action when he was alerted of a civilian who had collapsed while exercising nearby.  

“I was working out on the bench press with my earbuds in, when one of my Future Sailors ran up to me with a scared look on his face, yelling franticly,” said Lighten. “He told me there was a man lying on the floor unresponsive and not breathing.”

Lighten said his first thought was “I hope I can remember my training” as Future Sailor Dominic Rodgers cleared the way so Lighten could perform CPR on the man. Once he reached the struggling individual, the life-saving drills he had previously performed while stationed onboard USS Somerset came as easy as muscle-memory.

“Rodgers told me later that he knew the Navy provided CPR training to all of its personnel, which was why he ran straight to me,” said Lighten.

Lighten told a nearby observer to call 911 and proceeded to perform CPR on the man for 15 minutes, at which point the man became responsive and started breathing.

EMTs arrived soon after and transported the man to Temecula Valley Hospital.

“The guy never really saw who had helped him,” said Lighten. “I hope I get the opportunity to formally introduce myself to him in the future.”

Originally from Newark, New Jersey, Lighten said grew up in a “rough neighborhood” that forced him to grow up quickly, adding that he is not afraid to take on a difficult situation.

“I grew up in a rough neighborhood and I wanted a better future for myself,” said Lighten. “I joined the Navy because I wanted to improve myself, both professionally and culturally.”

After joining the Navy, Lighten worked as a machinery repairman before transitioning to Navy Recruiting as part of an effort to “assist young men and women in obtaining the same benefits that I received from joining the Navy.”

Lighten has served in the US Navy for eight years, which he said has helped him “grow as a leader.”

“The Navy has given me a brighter outlook on my life and a more promising future for my son,” Lighten said. “I frequently volunteer at the local high schools, animal hospitals and retirement homes with the purpose of giving back to my community and spreading Navy awareness.”

“I would like to wish the gentleman I assisted a speedy recovery and healthy future,” he later added.