Unveil the captivating tale behind an iconic image etched in history’s annals and its profound significance. Embark with us on a journey into the heart of a daring rescue in Jacksonville, Florida, and uncover the brave souls who orchestrated a miraculous save.

In the balmy heat of July, lensman Rocco Morabito embarked on a photographic assignment in Jacksonville, Florida. As he traversed West 26th Street, his gaze fell upon two workers from the Jacksonville Electric Authority diligently engaged in routine maintenance atop a power pole. Little did Morabito fathom that an impending tragedy lurked in the shadows.

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

Atop the pole, worker Randall G. Champion inadvertently made contact with an electric line, instantly engulfing him in a surge of incapacitating electricity. Despite his safety gear, Champion’s life hung precariously in the balance.

Meanwhile, Champion’s comrade, J.D. Thompson, toiled on a distant pole some 400 feet away. Upon hearing Champion’s desperate cries, Thompson sprang into action, racing to his colleague’s aid. Yet, faced Champion’s suspended state, Thompson realized that conventional CPR was unfeasible.

In a moment of unfathomable bravery, Thompson resolved to act decisively. With unwavering determination, he sealed Champion’s lips with his own, infusing life-giving breath into his lungs. With every exertion, Thompson fought against time, detecting a faint glimmer of hope as Champion’s pulse stirred. Sensing the urgency, Thompson orchestrated Champion’s descent to safety, cradling him down the dangerous pole.

On terra firma, Thompson and his cohorts persisted, administering CPR until the arrival of paramedics. Against the odds, Champion’s pulse surged, and he resumed breathing autonomously, though in a state of partial consciousness. In the crucible of adversity, Thompson’s valor proved pivotal, bestowing Champion a precious second chance at life.

Morabito, the witness to this harrowing saga, comprehended its gravity. Mobilizing his car’s radio, he summoned urgent medical aid, immortalizing the poignant moment with a click of his camera shutter. The resultant image, depicting Thompson’s life-affirming gesture, resonated across the globe, earning accolades such as the esteemed Pulitzer Prize of 1968.

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

Thanks to Thompson’s swift reflexes and gallantry, Champion was granted an additional 35 years before his eventual passing in 2002 at 64. Morabito, the custodian of this momentous snapshot, bid farewell in April 2009. At present, Thompson, the brave protagonist of this narrative, continues to thrive.

The saga of Jacksonville’s courageous rescue serves as a poignant reminder of the indomitable spirit and altruism latent within ordinary individuals, who emerge as unsung heroes when thrust into extraordinary circumstances. The enduring image encapsulates the essence of this heroic saga, immortalizing the courage of those involved for posterity.

We invite you to share your thoughts and sentiments, fostering a collective tribute to the boundless courage exhibited in the face of adversity. Your reflections are welcomed in the comments section below as we honor these unsung heroes’ legacy and celebrate the human spirit’s triumph.

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