Human Interest 'Grateful' Ind. Teacher Praises Students and Staff Who Saved His Life After Fall During Class "It's a wonderful day to be alive," said Don Criswell, who fell nine feet through an unsecured board while teaching a group of high school students at a construction site By Joelle Goldstein Joelle Goldstein Twitter Joelle Goldstein is a TV Staff Editor for PEOPLE Digital. She has been with the brand for five years, beginning her time as a digital news writer, where she covered everything from entertainment news to crime stories and royal tours. Since then, she has worked as a writer-reporter on the Human Interest team and an associate editor on the TV team. In her current role, Joelle oversees all things TV and enjoys being able to say she has to watch The Kardashians, Dancing with the Stars and America's Got Talent for "work". Prior to joining PEOPLE, Joelle was employed at The Hollywood Reporter. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Television-Radio (and an appearance in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four!) People Editorial Guidelines Published on November 9, 2021 03:08 PM Share Tweet Pin Email An Indiana teacher will be forever grateful to his students and a fellow staffer after they jumped into action to save his life during a scary accident in class. Don Criswell, a building trades teacher for New Castle Community Schools, was working with a group of high school students at a construction site in September when the incident unfolded, according to NBC affiliate WTHR. While teaching the students, Criswell stepped on an unsecured board and plummeted nine feet down, falling head-first onto the concrete ground, the outlet reported. "That's the last thing I remember," Criswell told WTHR. Thankfully, Criswell was in the right place, surrounded by two students and a staffer — and they instantaneously jumped into action to save his life. Mass. Students Save Beloved Teacher Who Suffered Stroke in Class: They 'All Did the Right Thing' "I took off my sweatshirt and helped wrap my sweatshirt and helped hold their sweatshirts onto his head," student Brendon Powell told the outlet. "He kept trying to fight to get up, thinking he was going to walk it off like it was another fall," said student Gage Reno. Mackenzie Jackson, the director of New Castle's Career Center, added to the outlet, "I immediately called 911 when I was running to get to him." The Henry County Sheriff's Department eventually showed up at the scene, where officers grew worried about Criswell's fate, WTHR reported. "I'll be honest," Deputy John Sproles told the TV station. "I said, 'Without a miracle, he's not going to live.' " RELATED VIDEO: Teacher Who 'Never Thought' He'd Be a Dad Adopts Student After Getting Him a Life-Saving Kidney Fortunately, Criswell made it to the hospital and was treated for his injuries. Now he wears a neck brace, which he'll need until January, according to WTHR. "I'm standing here and we're having a conversation and I'm just glad to do it," the teacher told the outlet on Monday, exactly six weeks after the accident. That same evening, a ceremony was held by the New Castle Community Schools School Board to honor Powell, Reno and Jackson with the Trojan Award of Excellence for their life-saving actions, WTHR reported. Michigan 5th-Grader Springs Into Action to Save Choking Teacher: 'Dylan Is a Real-Life Hero' "I'm grateful to these three people right here," Criswell told the crowd, per WTHR. The teacher said he "loves these boys because they're of great value." "We may not have Don if it wasn't for their quick action and leadership," added Superintendent Dr. Matthew Shoemaker. With only a few more weeks to go until his neck brace can be removed, Criswell said he has a new perspective on life. "It's a wonderful day to be alive," he told WTHR.