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Duke football player honors PCC nurse for saving his life

By Jamie Hicks
Published On: May 08 2013 12:22:53 AM CDT
Updated On: May 08 2013 08:34:50 AM CDT
GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

Pitt Community College graduated 96 nursing students during its annual pinning ceremony on Tuesday. One nursing student was recognized and pinned by a Duke University football player, whose life she saved just 10 months ago.

The first time 20-year-old Chelsea Gibbons saw 19-year-old Blair Holliday on July 4th, 2012, the Duke wide receiver appeared lifeless. Holliday was severely injured in a jet skiing accident when he collided with another teammate at Lake Tilley. Gibbons said she didn't see the crash but heard it, and said her nursing instincts immediately kicked in.

"When he first got out of the water, I checked for his pulse. It was really slow and then it started diminishing and going away," Gibbons explained.

Gibbons said when she could no longer feel a pulse, she began to give Holliday CPR, which ended up saving his life. Holliday said he doesn't remember much from that day, but is thankful that Gibbons, whom he calls his guardian angel, was there.

"It’s crazy to realize. She was there at the right moment. It's just like a gift from God, honestly,” Holliday said. "It’s just like she gave me so much with my life and all I’m doing is pinning her for graduation. She deserves more."

Holliday suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken jaw, and torn muscles in his shoulder. He said he is still undergoing speech and physical therapy at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Ga.

Gibbons said she and Holliday will always have a special bond.

"I feel blessed with this whole situation that I was able to help and he pulled through. It’s pretty much the happiest ending I can think of,” she said.

Holliday said he doesn't know when he will be back on the football field. He said he is relearning how to run and catch a football, but hopes to be back within the next two or three seasons.