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Woman saves boyfriend’s life after N.H. fall

Associated Press / September 21, 2009

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GRASS LAKE, Mich. - After her boyfriend slipped and fell while hiking near a New Hampshire waterfall, Shelly Johnson restarted his breathing, bandaged his head with her swimsuit, and carried him down a hill to safety.

“He owes me ice cream for life,’’ Johnson, 22, told the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Johnson, a senior nursing student at the University of Michigan, was headed to Maine last month for a vacation with her boyfriend of four years, 24-year-old Aaron Cole, a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University.

The Grass Lake natives stopped in New Hampshire on Aug. 18 to hike “a beautiful waterfall,’’ Cole recalled.

But while walking on slippery rocks in the water, Cole slipped and fell about 120 feet, bashing his head along the way and stopping face-down in a pool of water.

Johnson saw he wasn’t breathing and gave him several “rescue breaths.’’ She bandaged his wounded head and then carried him down the hill, talking to him to keep him awake.

Johnson, who weighs 115 pounds, says she drew special strength to carry the 160-pound Cole down the hill, which had taken them 45 minutes to climb.

“If all the money in the world was placed on it now,’’ she said, “I don’t think I could do it again. It was adrenaline and God.’’

Cole was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he spent two days in intensive care. He has no permanent brain damage from the accident.