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Manager and cook at the Lynn Haven Waffle House save the life of a local man

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:24 PM CDT
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LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WJHG) -

They’re known for their waffles, hashbrowns, grits, and southern hospitality. Now one local Waffle House can add life-saving skills to the menu.

Ladora Santoro loves her job as manager of the Lynn Haven Waffle House. On July 21st customer service took on a whole new meaning.

"The gentleman had come in and ordered breakfast," said Santoro. "He looked fine when he came in and sat down."

But within a few minutes, Santoro knew something was terribly wrong.

“He was sitting at our low bar,” explained Santoro. “He laid his head down for a brief second and then he sat up and fell completely out in the floor.

Santoro jumped into action along with fellow employee Aaron Cook.

“He had a very low pulse. We couldn’t really even feel a pulse on him,” said Santoro.

The hard fall left the man with a three-inch gash on his head. While Cook kept pressure on the head wound to try and stop the bleeding, Santoro started CPR.

“His face was just blue, blue, blue and just red, every now and then so you could see the circulation was not going and I knew if I didn’t start to do something soon there would probably be brain damage so I had to start something,” said Santoro.

She got down on the floor with the man and started chest compressions.

“We couldn’t do physical CPR {mouth to mouth} on him because he had a lot of fluids coming from his mouth so we continued to do chest compressions on him,” said Santoro. “I just kept talking to him saying you can’t leave me today this is not gonna happen. I kept praying he would be okay.”

EMS arrived minutes later and took over.

“I held it together until after he left and then I had to go out back and have my cry,” said Santoro. “I just kept praying that he would be okay and I couldn’t wait until that evening when I finally got the message from my division manager who had gotten in touch with his daughter somehow and said that he was doing much better, he was in ICU.”

Santoro has kept up with the man’s progress through his family and friends. One of whom is Bay County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Harbuck.

“His daughter, one of his daughters in my daughter in law,” explained Capt. Harbuck.

The man who fell to the floor unconscious is Gary Grant of Panama City.

“I will tell you that Mr. Grant is recently retired,” said Capt. Harbuck. “He’s been a pharmacist here in the Bay County area for over 30 some odd years. He’s a great man, he’s a great father, great husband. He has 3 daughters and one teenage son. He has 6 grandchildren all under the age of 4. It’s a great, great family.”

A family who will forever be Waffle House fans.

“{They are} Extremely grateful to the employees here who saved their father,” said Capt. Harbuck.

We're told Mr. Grant doesn't remember much of what happened that day.

“He knows that he went through a traumatic event. He does not remember the details of it,” said Capt. Harbuck. “He was extremely critical here at the business when EMS arrived. He doing much better.”

A couple of days after the incident, Lynn Haven Police Chief Ricky Ramie heard what happened.

"I immediately sent one of my officers down there and got their names and ultimately got all the information related to it," said Chief Ramie.

He then contacted Capt. Harbuck.

"We have to recognize people in our community when they do things of this nature," said Chief Ramie.

Both the sheriff's office and Lynn Haven Police Department will be recognizing Santoro and Cook for their actions.

"You've got to think about it. If neither one of these employees were there this man may not be alive," remarked Chief Ramie. "It's one of those things. God puts people in positions and at times where they need to be."

Santoro was told about the award Wednesday which she and Cook will receive on August 10th at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

“I just commend them,” said Chief Ramie. “They’re heroes and what a great opportunity for us to recognize them.”

“I don’t think of myself as that,” said Santoro. “I’m just an everyday person.”

Not according to the Grant family. To them, she and Cook will always be heroes who wear aprons.

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