Heart stops during Easter service, man revived at hopital as congregation prays

An Easter service celebrating the resurrection took on a dramatic meaning for a Rockland congregation when one of its members collapsed in church Sunday, with no heartbeat or pulse — only to be revived soon after in a local hospital.

“On Easter we pray for resurrection,” said Carl Johnson, pastor of Gracepoint Gospel Fellowship in New City. “This year we saw one before our eyes.”

When Johnson arrived at the 1,000-member church shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday for the first of three Easter services, he was not surprised to see Ed Ilarraza waiting for him. Ilarraza, a 58-year-old insurance agent; his wife, Blanca; and their four children are active members of the church.

Ed Ilarraza volunteered to be a greeter at the early Easter service.

“Ed was standing there, ready to greet me as he always is with a big smile,” Johnson recalled Monday. “He seemed totally himself – totally normal.”

But during the service, he started to collapse. Other congregants helped him out of the large sanctuary and called an ambulance.

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