Doug and Melalee Winkler were leaving lunch in Weatherford last October and headed home to Granbury when Melalee realized something was wrong with her husband.
"We started driving down I-20 and I could just tell he was going out on me," Melalee said.
Melalee watched his head lull before falling back. That's when she knew her husband was gone. Having already survived a heart attack, she had a feeling Doug's heart had stopped.
"The first thing I said was, 'Oh God no. Just help me. Help me. Just help me help him,' you know," Melalee said.
The next thing she saw was a sign for a hospital at the next exit. But when she took it, there were no signs designating which direction to go.
Instead, she pulled into the nearest gas station parking lot, a Valero along Santa Fe Drive. After begging the attendant to call 911, her prayers were answered in the form of a couple she'd never seen before.
"I was screaming, 'When are they going to get here? When are they going to get here?' And they walked up and the woman said, 'Do y'all need assistance?' And I said, 'Yes. Do you know CPR?' And she said, 'He does.' And I said, 'Please get on him,'" Melalee said.
Though Melalee said she doesn't remember the whole traumatic incident, both she and paramedics believe the stranger kept compressions going for six minutes before the ambulance arrived.
"It takes a lot. Even for those of us who do it all the time, it takes a lot," paramedic Chase Boyd said.
Boyd was one of three who responded and kept CPR going for another 20-plus minutes before Doug regained a pulse.
They believe their work alone wouldn't have prevented the brain damage most who suffer cardiac arrest develop or even death.
"There's no doubt in my mind that if the good Samaritan hadn't been there, the outcome would have been completely different," paramedic Drew Clinkscales said.
But as soon as professional help arrived, the couple who'd stepped in when the Winklers needed them most were gone.
"They just showed up and then disappeared," Doug said.
That hasn't stopped the Winklers from looking for them. After Doug was released from the hospital and had recovered from the broken ribs and memory loss that followed the cardiac arrest, they revisited the gas station to see if the couple had been seen again.
So far, no one seems to know who they are. And along a busy interstate, the Winklers know it's possible they were simply passing through, with no ties to the area.
Still, they know what they'll say should they ever find them.
"What you did was step up when somebody needed you that you didn't even know and you saved a life," Melalee said.
For now, they're pouring their gratitude out on the first responders who also played a major role in giving Doug a second chance, while enjoying the time together they've been gifted.