The Kiss of Life

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  • Post last modified:June 29, 2023
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Find out about the amazing past of this iconic image and what it means.

In July, photographer Rocco Morabito was on his way to a job in Jacksonville, Florida. He was going down West 26th Street. As he walked by, two people from the Jacksonville Electric Authority were doing routine repair on a power pole. On his way back from work, he thought about taking a break to take pictures of the workers. He heard him yelling as he got closer to where the workers were. A terrible accident had taken place.

Randall G. Champion was the guy at the top of the pole. It looks like he touched one of the lines on top of the utility pole by chance while making the needed repairs. When the lightning went through his body, it killed him right away. Even though he didn’t fall, he was still in great danger because he wore safety gear.

Photo credit: “The Kiss of Life” by Rocco Morabito / Source

J.D. Thompson, who was running with Champion, started from a pole about 400 feet away. Thompson got to Champion in a matter of seconds, but he couldn’t give CPR while Champion was still in the air. He also knew that he wouldn’t have time to save Champion if he had to untie the horse and get him down on the ground.

Champion was gasping for air, and Thompson knew he had to try to bring him back to life. He put his lips over Champion’s mouth and then blew air into his coworker’s lungs. He could feel a weak pulse after giving the chest a few hard hits. Thompson could see that his friend needed to be brought down to the ground to get medical help. He took Champion out of his harness, put him on his back, and started to climb down the pole.

Before the paramedics arrived, Thompson and another friend on the floor did CPR. When the medical team finally got there, Champion was breathing and had a higher pulse, but he was only partly awake.

Photo credit: Morabito with his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo / Source

When Morabito stopped to take pictures of the workers, he used the two-way radio in his car to call for an ambulance. When he looked up at the two guys on the pole, he realised how serious the situation was. According to the story, he took a picture of Thompson giving Champion the “kiss of life,” and the picture became famous.

The striking, unfiltered picture won the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 and quickly became known all over the world. After their fight, Thompson, Champion, and Morabito were thrust into the limelight. Thompson felt uncomfortable when people called him a hero more often than he liked.

Because J.D. Thompson acted quickly, Randall G. Champion was given a second chance at life. Champion lived for another 35 years after that. He died in 2002 when he was 64 years old. In April 2009, Rocco Morabito died at a place for people with terminal illnesses. J.D. Thompson was doing well when this was written.

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