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His angels were teen firefighters
18 July 2001

The Right Place, The Right Time -- If he was going to have a heart attack, Robert Oberle chose the right place and the right time.

He had it at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., by the grave of the late President John F. Kennedy.

And he had it on a day when members of the Tukwila Fire Explorers were touring the cemetery and visiting the same site.

Now, Oberle is lauding 18-year-old Kevin Correa and Tukwila firefighter Marco Kronen as heroes.

Correa, a 2001 graduate of Lindbergh High School, is a member of the Tukwila Fire Explorers, a program that gives youths 16 to 20 years of age a chance to explore a career in firefighting. Kronen is the post advisor.

"I figure if it wasn't for those guys I'd be dead -- or a vegetable,'' Oberle said.

The 62-year-old retired tool-and-die maker from Toledo, Ohio, was visiting the cemetery on a family vacation. He was watching a buggy with his two young grandchildren in it while his son shot pictures.

"All of a sudden everything started spinning. I went into cardiac arrest,'' Oberle said.

He collapsed, pulling the buggy over.

Correa and Kronen, who were visiting the cemetery after attending a national Fire Explorers conference, began CPR.

"This boy helped save my life,'' Oberle said. "There's no ifs, ands or buts about it.

"The Lord was looking over me. I had a lot of angels working on me.''

Doctors installed a pacemaker and Oberle said he's now feeling better.

"The weird thing was, that night when things started settling down, the nurse asked if I wanted the TV turned on. I turned on TNN and got the Grand Old Opry. The first song was, `Angels Are Watching Over You.'

"It was weird. I had tears in my eye. I thought, boy, if that doesn't just fit the bill.''

Besides Correa, three other members of the Tukwila Fire Explorers were in Washington, D.C., after attending the National Fire And Emergency Services Explorer Conference in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

They were 18-year-old Kevin O'Keefe, a graduate of Lindbergh High; 18-year-old Mike White, a graduate of Auburn High School; and 17-year-old Olivia Noble, an Auburn High School student.

White placed second in the one-person CPR competition. He and O'Keefe finished first and second, respectively, on the Firefighter 1 certification exam.

Posted: 20 October 2001