Father's day at the Whilden house in South Anchorage bustled with family members of several generation. A toddler played bounced a rubber ball while an elementary age girl clattered across the floor in dress up heels.
One way or another, every person is a member of Melvin Coghill's family. He has a total of 68 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Many of them live in Anchorage and were preparing a Father's Day dinner for him. It's a dinner he came close to not having.
On Wednesday, Coghill was shopping at Costco on Dimond Boulevard. He was shopping for laundry detergent when he started to feel strange.
"It felt like I was moving in to a black tunnel and I knew I was going to pass out," Coghill said that's the last thing he remembers of his heart attack.
A Costco employee found him passed out in the aisle. Assistant Manager William Pommarane said employees called 911, started doing CPR then ran for a manager to use the automatic External Defibrillator. Pommerane was in the upstairs office and had to grab the AED, then run to the back of the store. He said that Coghill had no color in his face when he first spotted him.
"I kind of teared up. I was thinking he wasn't going to make it. That was my thought," Pommarane said.
Still, he and his team went to work, using the device to keep Coghill alive. In 7 minutes, emergency responders arrived and took over. Later, they said the Costco team did exactly the right thing.
Coghill is grateful too.
"My heart had stopped," Coghill said.
When Coghill got out of the hospital on Friday, Coghill's daughter Juliana Whilden said the employees went well beyond what was asked of them.
"It's phenomenal to me that people who go and check the mail that go get groceries would dive in to save somebody's life like that. I'm forever thankful. I just can't believe they did that." Whilden said it took more than training for the team to save her father. "You have to be caring really extremely caring to work that well together to save somebody's life that quick."
Whilden said after meeting Pommarane, she'll be sure to remember him.
"He's a complete stranger, but I'm thankful for him. He will always be in my prayers--every single day." Coghill agrees. Every day, to him is a gift. "God has another purpose for me on Earth."