LYNDHURST, N.J. -- It happened so quickly that no one at the St. Patrick's Day campaign fundraiser in Lyndhurst could believe their eyes: A local deejay whose heart had stopped was revived by a trio of public servants.
One of the speeches had just ended for the Lyndhurst Community Pride event at Michael's Riverside Restaurant when 74-year-old Dick Italiano went down.
Attendee Joyce DiMaggio was one of several people on the crowded dance floor.
"All that I can recall was turning around only to see our dear friend, Dick, lying on the floor," she said. "It was almost surreal as the music came to a halt and the guests were shouting to call 911."
"He wasn't breathing. He was lifeless, with no pulse, for what seemed like an eternity," attendee Chris Bonelli told Daily Voice. "It was heart-breaking watching his wife plead for help."
Immediately rushing to the Wood-Ridge deejay's side were veteran firefighters Paul and Nicholas Haggerty -- whose mother, Karen, is a candidate for the borough Board of Commissioners -- and Dominick Rotundo, also a firefighter and a member of the borough Police Emergency Squad.
The Haggerty brothers were off duty, supporting their mom at the SRO fundraiser, which featured bagpipers and children doing Irish dances.
Still, as Paul Haggerty said, "a responder is never off."
They got to work instantly.
"We took turns with compressions and giving breaths," Haggerty told Daily Voice. "The police got there less than a minute later and gave us a defibrillator.
"We gave him one shock and he came back to us."
Witnesses were amazed.
"This man came back to life and left breathing, talking and ALIVE," Bonelli said.
"To see a guy come back like that -- you can't help but tear up," said Haggerty, 34, a former borough fire chief who is now the deputy fire commissioner.
"We could have not asked for a better outcome," LPES Capt. Tarcisio Nunes said. "I'm very proud."
"These guys were beyond amazing," DiMaggio added.
Italiano was adamant about not going to the hospital, but the responders prevailed.
As they wheeled him out, he gave attendees high-fives from the stretcher.
"He had stents put in and may have suffered a slight concussion from the fall -- but all in all, it looks like he is on the road to recovery," DiMaggio said Saturday.
"I was told that he remains in the hospital, trying to bargain his way out in order to deejay again tonight," she wrote. "And that's a real good sign to me."