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LIer saves woman’s life on golf course

Rick Spellman, 39, of Manhasset, with Margaret Savarese,

Rick Spellman, 39, of Manhasset, with Margaret Savarese, 77, of Massapequa. Spellman helped save Savarese's life after she collapsed with a heart attack while playing golf at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 10. (Dec. 27, 2012) (Credit: Brittany Wait)

Rick Spellman never had to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation in 12 years as a lifeguard at Jones Beach’s Field 4.

But when a day of golf in early September at Eisenhower Park turned into a frantic race to save one woman’s life, Spellman was ready.

After noticing a woman lying unresponsive on the golf course, Spellman dropped his golf clubs, raced to her side and began performing chest compressions.

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Spellman used his past lifeguarding skills to perform CPR on Margaret Savarese, 77, of  Massapequa, who had collapsed after she had a heart attack.

“It was so ingrained in my mind,” Spellman said of his training Thursday. “I never forgot how to. I guess it’s just in me.”

The former Jones Beach lifeguard was playing on the eighth hole of the Blue Course at the East Meadow golf course with his father, Fred Spellman, when he saw Savarese.

“It was like divine intervention because I almost didn’t go golfing that day,” said Spellman, 39, of Manhasset. “I did all that I could. I would have wanted someone to do that for my mother or family member. You just don’t sit around and watch. You have to do something.”

Spellman, now a lighting fixtures salesman in North Amityville, began pumping Savarese's chest and alternately breathing into her mouth, while her golf partners Joan Aspromante and Loretta Limanni contacted first responders.

Aspromante said when her friend first fell, she thought Savarese was joking, or had simply lost her balance.

“I saw the expression on her face and immediately dialed 911,” she said. “We kept saying, over and over again for at least 10 minutes, ‘Please Marge, stay with us.’ ”

Savarese had temporary memory loss while recovering at the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, but her friends and Spellman explained to her what had happened.

She also later learned that her heart had stopped three times, and if Spellman hadn’t rushed over when he did that she may not have survived.

Spellman and Savarese were reunited for the first time since the lifesaving event when the North Hempstead Town Board honored Spellman with a certificate of appreciation at a Dec. 5 Town Hall meeting. Supervisor Jon Kaiman also gave both Spellman and Savarese a free round of golf at Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington.

But that’s far from the best gift she’s gotten this holiday season.

“I keep saying that he’s my guardian angel,” Savarese said. “People have even been giving me angel statues and ornaments for Christmas. I owe this man my life. Thank God he was there.”

Photo: Rick Spellman, 39, of Manhasset, with Margaret Savarese, 77, of Massapequa. (Dec. 27, 2012)

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