MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A service technician from Otsego is remembering his former coworker, 34-year-old Cory Lewellin, who died in a crane accident outside St. Paul Hmong Alliance Church in Maplewood on Monday.

“I owe my life to him,” Rich Thies said.

Thies and Lewillin, who was a crane operator, were at Landwehr Construction in St. Cloud on Aug. 23 when Thies suffered a major heart attack. Lewellin jumped out of his crane and rushed to his side.

“I dialed 911 before I collapsed and handed the phone to Cory, he did CPR and everything on his own,” Thies said.

When Thies woke up he was in the hospital. Doctors told him his type of heart attack had a 1 percent chance of survival, and that Lewellin’s quick thinking likely saved his life.

“I’m here because of what Cory did,” Thies said.

Thies returned to work three weeks after the accident. Lewellin was there to welcome him back.

“We just hugged — a big bro hug,” Thies said. “Nobody teased us…and it was kind of an amazing thing.”

When Thies found out about the crane accident that took Lewellin’s life while on the job Monday, he said it was surreal.

“It made me think: Why did I go through what I did? Why did Cory have to go through what he did? What is our purpose?” he said.

Thies said he’s thankful he got to thank Lewellin what he did for him, but wants his fiancée, children, and family he’s leaving behind to know he will think of him every day for the rest of his life.

“It’s important people know what kind of a person he was,” Thies said, adding that Lewellin “went above and beyond what was expected of him, and I’m here today because of it.”

Lewellin was engaged to be married. He and his fiancée were expecting a baby in November.

The cause of the crane accident is still under investigation.


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