It was a true Christmas miracle.
A 72-year-old man who collapsed on the ground Monday and had no pulse while waiting in line at a Bronx cheese shop was brought back to life by an off-duty firefighter.
Lt. Rudy Goop from Engine Co. 46 was waiting with his son about 9:30 a.m. at an Arthur Ave. shop to buy fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese for a big Christmas dinner. Then a blood-curdling scream pierced through the holiday bustle from outside the store.
The 24-year FDNY veteran raced outside and found Miguel Ingulli on the street while his wife wailed in panic.
“I realize the guy is having a heart attack so I started doing chest compressions,” Goop said.
The smoke eater worked on the Ingulli and instructed another cheese shop patron to call firefighters at Engine Co. 88 four blocks away.
“This guy was dead,” a source said of the victim, who was unresponsive and had turned blue.
Goop kept pressing on the man’s chest in a desperate attempt to keep him alive until help arrived.
“I could see the color in his face change. I was pumping the blood into his heart,” Goop said.
Firefighters from Engine Co. 88 arrived and shocked the man back to life with a defibrillator.
Ingulli was then rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital in stable condition.
The man who hours ago clutched his chest and crumbled to the pavement as death was creeping in is now alert and talking.
“I love him. I have to thank him,” he told The News from his hospital bed.
“He’s a nice guy. He saved my life. What can be better than this?”
Meanwhile, Goop, who was resting at his Orange County home before the holidays, said there was no guarantee CPR would work on the victim.
“Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the results don’t always turn out so good, but today it did,” said Goop. “It’s amazing that he came back.”