The photograph that’s just as powerful 50 years on

Kiss of Life
The Kiss of Life by Rocco Morabito (via LinkedIn)

In 1967, Rocco Morabito took this photo called ‘The Kiss of Life’ of utility worker J.D. Thompson giving mouth-to-mouth to co-worker Randall G. Champion.

Thompson and Champion were performing routine maintenance at the top of a utility pole when Champion brushed one of the high-voltage lines at the top. More than 4000 volts surged through Champion’s body (an electric chair uses 2000) and stopped his heart.

His safety harness stopped him from falling and Thompson quickly reached him and performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Unable to perform CPR given the circumstances, he continued the resuscitation until he felt a slight pulse, then descended with him on his shoulder.

Kiss of Life
Image via LinkedIn

Thompson and another worker performed CPR on the ground and were able to moderately revive Champion before paramedics arrived. He eventually made a full recovery.

Morabito was a journalist who was working on another assignment when he saw Champion dangling from the pole. He called an ambulance before taking the photograph. Morabito won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Spot Photography for the photograph. The original is on permanent display in the Newseum in Washington DC.

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