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Mail carrier acts fast to treat Oslo, Minn., man with CPR

Rick Hendrickson, who was brought back to life a couple of weeks ago by substitute mail carrier, Jake Craik doing CPR, gets to meet Craik for the first time following his rescue. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 2
Rick Hendrickson, right, was brought back to life a couple of weeks ago by substitute mail carrier, Jake Craik, after collapsing on the sidewalk in front of his Oslo, Minn., home. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 2

OSLO, Minn. — When survivor met savior here Friday, the reunion started with a handshake, a hug and a wisecrack.

“So, you’re the man who busted me up,” Rick Hendrickson said with a chuckle as he greeted lifesaver Jake Craik at his Oak Street home.

Hendrickson was referring to his sternum and three ribs that were broken when Craik performed CPR on the 66-year-old on Jan. 11. Clutching a heart-shaped pillow, Hendrickson quickly added that the chest compressions that broke his bones also likely saved his life.

“I’m thankful you did break my ribs because there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t,” Hendrickson said. “I owe my life to you. That’s no small thing.”

Craik, 29, said Hendrickson wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse when he arrived on the scene that Saturday afternoon. However, his training had taught him to do chest compressions anyway, “so I decided to do it until someone more qualified showed up.”

The Oslo ambulance was at the scene within five minutes of the emergency call placed by Craik, who was delivering mail on the block when Hendrickson went down on his sidewalk. He was whisked to Altru, where he stayed for 11 days before his return home.

Craik and Hendrickson also marveled at the set of circumstances that put the CPR-trained mail carrier at the home at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 11. For one thing, Craik delivers mail only one day every two weeks. For another, he was ahead of schedule that day.

They went even further back to a year ago, when Craik took the CRP class. “(Wife) Mallory and I decided I should do it in case anything happened to our two boys, who are both under two years old,” Craik said.

“I said then that I didn’t think I’d ever have to use it. But I did and it worked out well.”

Hendrickson was born and raised in Oslo and has spent all but about 10 of his 66 years here. Most of his working career was as a civilian employee at the Grand Forks Air Force Base. His job now is being a grandfather to nine. Photos and artwork of the grandchildren adorn every wall on his home’s first floor.

The Craiks live in Warren, Minn., 17 miles to the east.

As Mallory and Jake left for home, Hendrickson had one final comment with a different tone than his lighthearted opening remark. “Thank you from the bottom of my life,” he said.