South Jersey Wawa employee, 19, helps save customer's life during 16-hour shift

·3 min read

MILLVILLE - John Wallop was a little more than halfway through a marathon 16-hour shift at Wawa last Friday when a mundane night turned into a manic one.

"I was just doing my thing in the deli when two customers came running up to me saying a woman had overdosed in the bathroom," said Wallop, a 19-year-old senior at Millville High School. "They said she was having seizures and didn't look like she was breathing, so I just dropped everything I was doing and went to help."

Wallop said he immediately went to his manager and told her to call 911 before racing to the women's room at the West Main and Sharp streets Wawa.

Instincts took over after that, the Philadelphia native said.

"She was laying there on the floor and I could see her bag sitting there open full of drugs," Wallop recalled. "She was turning purple so I pinched her nose and starting doing CPR. She died on me there for a little bit, I think, and I just kept checking her pulse over and over for a good couple minutes.

"I did probably another 75 chest compressions and that's when she started spitting up," Wallop continued. "Once she started breathing, I turned her on her side and that's right before the EMTs showed up."

John Wallop, a senior at Millville High School, helped save a woman's life  while on his shift at Wawa Dec. 17.
John Wallop, a senior at Millville High School, helped save a woman's life while on his shift at Wawa Dec. 17.

Wallop said it was the first time he's had to put his CPR training to use.

He learned the skill while attending classes during visits to see his late grandmother, a nurse, in North Carolina.

"It was like firecrackers going off in my head when I had to do it," Wallop said of administering aid to the woman. "I was surprised. I kind of just blacked out and did what I had to do."

Millville Police Department Capt. Ross Hoffman confirmed his department responded to the Wawa around 11 p.m. on Dec. 17 for reports of a 21-year-old woman who appeared to have overdosed.

Hoffman said she was treated by EMS on scene and released.

Wallop stayed inside the store once the EMS crew took over. He said, on Tuesday, he was unaware of the woman's condition.

"After I helped, I washed my hands and went into the office and my manager asked if I was OK," Wallop said. "I told her, 'I'm fine,' and she said, 'You were so calm with everything.'"

Wallop admitted he didn't think much of the act until he started to see his story surfacing on the internet. Everyone was talking about it in school on Monday, he said.

"I do feel great about it," said Wallop, who took on the double shift that day to earn extra money for Christmas. "I've kind of always been the first person to help someone out. I think people know that about me; I'm the first person a lot of my friends come to if they need something."

Knowing Wallop, Millville High School Principal Jaime Sutton was not shocked to learn of her student's heroics.

"John is a thoughtful young man and always shows respect for his teachers and peers," Sutton said. "It is no surprise that he jumped right in to help someone in need. We are extremely proud of John."

Wallop has worked for Wawa for about a year, and at the West Main and Sharp streets store going on four months, he said. He hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement down the road.

For now, Wawa is thankful to have him.

"We are grateful for the response and the courage the associate showed by stepping in and performing CPR on a customer in need of help," Wawa spokesperson Jennifer Wolf said. "We are working to find a way to properly acknowledge his actions and thank him for going above and beyond to save a life."

A South Jersey native, Anthony Coppola has handled a variety of beats at The Daily Journal, Courier-Post and Burlington County Times, including award-winning work in sports and business coverage. Coppola, who joined the staff in 2008, now focuses on regional education reporting. Please consider supporting local journalism with a digital subscription.

This article originally appeared on Vineland Daily Journal: Millville Wawa employee uses CPR to help save customer's life

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