Tustin woman, once homeless, saves Irvine man’s life

Christina Schulz was returning from a bad job interview when she came across the limp body of a young man, face down at a bus stop. What she did next earned her a citizen’s medal.

Christina Schulz
Good Samaritan Christina Schulz tearfully recounts how she performed CPR on a stranger in Irvine on Jan. 16, possibly saving the man’s life. Schulz was given a coin of recognition by the Irvine Police Department.
EUGENE GARCIA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

JORDAN GRAHAM / STAFF WRITER
Published: Jan. 29, 2014 Updated: Jan. 30, 2014 1:13 p.m.

Christina Schulz was returning from a bad job interview in Irvine and feeling a bit down when she stumbled across the limp body of a man and saved his life with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Last week, the Irvine Police Department awarded a citizen’s medal to Schulz – a 32-year-old resident of Tustin’s Village of Hope transitional housing program for the homeless – for her actions on Jan. 16.
On that day, just after noon, Schulz was leaving her interview, walking west of the Irvine Spectrum, when she came across a young man lying face down at a bus stop.
“Poor guy, he’s probably passed out drunk,” she thought as she walked past his body. A few strides later, she turned around, remembering a promise she made to herself six months before, when she had helped move a homeless man she found lying near the road.
“I promised myself that day that I would never walk by another person like that without checking,” said Schulz, who once was homeless for a year and was addicted to meth for half her life before getting sober three years ago. She has been living at the Village of Hope with her 12-year-old daughter since March 2012.
As she bent over he man at the bus stop, she noticed his arm was twisted strangely. When she turned his body over, the man’s eyes were open and his face was dark blue. She called 911.
“Is he breathing?” the 911 operator asked. No. “Does he have a pulse?” No. “Have you performed CPR?” Never.
Following the operator’s instructions, Schulz placed her hands on the man’s chest, began pumping, and watched as color slowly returned to his face. She could feel the man’s ribs crack beneath her thrusts. That’s normal, said the operator. Keep going.
“He was dead,” Schulz said, pausing to wipe away tears. “Nobody on the street would stop to help. Not even to tell me (my location to direct paramedics).”
Finally, a man ran across the street to help. Together, they located an address and pumped the man’s heart until police arrived. Afterward, they hugged, cried and prayed together. She still does not know his name.
Irvine police said they arrived on the scene within two minutes of the call, and paramedics followed a minute or two later.
“Seconds make the difference,” said Irvine police spokeswoman Lt. Julia Engen. “That (Schulz) made the call and got involved when she did, I’m sure made a difference.”
Police said that the Irvine man is expected to recover from the incident. Other details about the man or how he came to be lying at the bus stop were unavailable.
Schulz said she knows nothing about the man she saved, but would like to meet him.
Her main concern remains finding a job, though. A year after earning an administrative assistant certificate from Irvine Valley College, Schulz said it has been difficult to find work because of shoplifting and fraud convictions on her record. But she hopes that she can find employment, save some money, provide for her daughter and finally move out of the Village of Hope.
As Schulz walked around the village Wednesday, residents and staff alike addressed her as “hero.” She smiled bashfully.
“I’m happy he is alive,” Schulz said. “I feel like he would have died if I hadn’t been there. But I think it was what any decent human should do. We need to care about each other.”
Contact the writer: 714-796-7960 or jgraham@ocregister.com

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