(NEW YORK) — A North Carolina couple are calling a state trooper their “angel” and a hero for helping save their daughter’s life when she stopped breathing due to RSV.
Victoria O’Neal told “Good Morning America” her 9-week-old triplet daughters first started to get sick last Sunday, and by Tuesday, her daughter Amelia’s condition had grown worse.
“At 1:00 when I went to feed them, she just sounded so weak and sick and it freaked me out,” O’Neal recounted. “So I called [my fiancé] Derrick, told him to come home, asked him to take her to the hospital.”
O’Neal said she asked her fiancé Derrick Stroud to take Amelia to the children’s hospital in Greenville, North Carolina, about 34 miles northeast of their home in Kinston. “It’s where they were born,” O’Neal said.
When Stroud got the call at work, he rushed home and wasted no time getting his daughter out the door. However, he was stopped on the way to the hospital after being pulled over for speeding.
Stroud described that moment as divine intervention.
“As I’m rushing to the hospital, it’s almost like God placed the trooper and the ambulance within 2 miles of us when we got pulled because as I was going to the hospital, the trooper pulled me at about 100 miles an hour,” Stroud told “GMA.” “When he pulled me over, I was frantically hanging out the window, letting him know that my baby was having problems at that time breathing.”
That person who pulled Stroud over was Trooper Matthew Brown of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, who recounted the unusual sight to “GMA.”
“I had an SUV coming up behind me at a really high rate of speed, four-way flashers going, which I knew was kind of odd because most folks, if they’re gonna be speeding like that are trying not to get attention rather than having their four ways on,” Brown recalled. “When I got up to the driver … he was visibly distraught and upset. He said he was on his way to the hospital, which confused me because he had already passed the exit to go to the local hospital, which would be the hospital in Kinston. And when I asked him that, he said his daughter was having trouble breathing and he was taking her to the hospital in Greenville, which was about another 30 minutes away from where we were at.”
Brown, a state trooper since 2017 and a twin himself, told “GMA” he was previously a firefighter EMT and trained in emergency medical services.
“I opened the door and turned her towards me, I realized that she was having extreme difficulty breathing, had paradoxical breathing going on, which is basically where the chest and the stomach are actually going off each other. It’s just the obvious sign of infants struggling to breathe and her lips and face were starting to get some cyanosis, which is that blue color,” Brown said.
Brown said he got Amelia out of her car seat, started taking her vital signs and patting her on the back to wake her back up, which Stroud said he observed.
“I was just trying to get something out of her and she finally did come out and open her eyes and start interacting and I could tell whenever she started breathing more normally that she was still having some kind of, something going on with her lungs because her lung sounds weren’t very clear,” Brown said. “I knew RSV has been a really prevalent thing going on and actually told the father … ‘I would be surprised if she doesn’t have RSV.’ “
Brown then called in a medical unit backup and an ambulance quickly arrived on scene to transport Amelia to the local hospital in Kinston.
According to her parents, Amelia was later transferred to Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville. Doctors confirmed Amelia did have RSV and treated her with additional oxygen. After three days, Amelia was well enough to be discharged while her sisters took their turns getting checked out at the hospital for their RSV symptoms as well.
O’Neal and Stroud told “GMA” they’re grateful for Brown’s quick actions and help.
“It’s very crazy how everything works because like I say, for him to pull us over with triplets, and he’s a twin himself expecting twins and everybody was just in the right spot at the right time. It’s just really a blessing and I just wanted everybody to know that he is the reason that [we] still have Amelia,” Stroud said.
“He was an angel or a hero,” O’Neal added. “I don’t want to imagine the level of panic I would have had if that had been me, if I had been the trooper and I had pulled someone over and there was a little baby turning blue in the backseat, like to have been able to keep a level head and do what he needed to do to help her, it’s just amazing and I’m so grateful to him.”
Brown said he was just doing his job that day. “Part of the reason that I joined the highway patrol was so I would be able to be out there and have access to do this kind of stuff and help people,” he said.
“I’m a father myself and I can understand what he was trying to do. He was just not going about it necessarily the right way. But I mean, anybody who has a kid is going to do what they think they need to do to try to get it taken care of,” Brown added. “So I wasn’t going to penalize him for that. Plus, I wanted him to go to the hospital with the baby so I had him go with the medical unit.”
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