He was about to pay for his groceries when he noticed two employees frantically running to the front of the store.

As Marcus Guajardo’s items were being scanned and placed into bags, the two Meijer employees grabbed a defibrillator from the wall and rushed back toward the middle of the store.

Guajardo then saw a man on the floor and ran toward him. As the Meijer employees struggled to get the defibrillator out of the package, Guajardo checked for a pulse — the man’s face was turning blue.

Guajardo, a registered nurse who was still wearing his scrubs from his shift at Community Hospital South, immediately began chest compressions. For nearly 10 minutes, he continued compressions, slowly bringing color back to the man’s face. Just before medics arrived, the man began to breathe — Guajardo had saved his life.

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“I’ve never experienced anything like that outside of the hospital,” Guajardo said. “I just saw his legs laying out of an aisle and I instinctively took off toward him. When I got there, you could tell this man was very close to losing his life.”

When medics arrived they hooked the man up to a monitor and took over chest compressions before taking him to Community Hospital South, where Guajardo works in the Intensive Care Unit.

He recalls the events that led to him being in the right place to provide care.

Guajardo was at the Meijer on State Road 135 shopping for about a half-hour and had gone to the checkout line to pay. But as he got to the line, his wife called, reminding him to pick up some diapers for the youngest of their four children.

The trip to the back of the store added about five minutes onto Guajardo’s trip and put him in the position to see the ill man.

When Guajardo returned to the checkout line, he noticed all of his groceries had been bagged. When he went to apologize to the cashier for running off, the manager handed him a receipt for his groceries and a $25 Meijer gift card, thanking him for his help, Guajardo said. The store paid for his groceries as a sign of gratitude along with the gift card, Guajardo said.

By that time, it had been nearly an hour since Guajardo noticed the employees grabbing the defibrillator and his adrenaline was still high. When he called his wife, who is also a nurse and the reason Guajardo decided to become one, he began to cry while telling her what had just taken place.

Several days later, still shaken up by the experience, Guajardo returned to work and sought out the man whose life he saved, Guajardo said.

When he knocked on the door to his room, Guajardo told him the two met at Meijer, Guajardo said. The man immediately knew who he was and tried to get up to thank him. The man’s wife walked over to Guajardo and hugged him, nearly sobbing the entire time, thankful for what Guajardo had done.

Guajardo feels a deep-rooted emotional connection to what happened because of how he ended up at Meijer that evening. More than five years ago, his wife who encouraged him to be a nurse and supported him through school when he left his job as a business and finance professional, Guajardo said.

And it was his wife who called and asked him to stop at Meijer, putting him in the right place at the right time, he said.

“I owe my career to my wife. She saw the potential in me. It just seemed like it was meant to be that she called,” Guajardo said.

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at celliot@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2719.