This is a pretty neat news story I read over a week ago but saved in my files. Here are bits and pieces of it (enough to put the story together) but if you want to read it in its entirety, the original source is listed above.
Had someone not suffered a dislocated hip before dawn one recent morning, a baby who had nothing to do with it might have died 2 miles away.
It is a tiny twist in a story full of big ones that continues to unfold in the strange case of Cristy and Justin Campbell of Glen Carbon. She apparently shot her former husband to death at their burning house before dawn March 16 and fled with their newborn son in an SUV as their other six children escaped.
18 miles away, a dislocated-hip call comes into to the Highland Fire Department. It drew one of the two ambulances on duty to a street near that city’s downtown. The EMS crew then called for help in lifting the patient.
The call for help in lifting the patient went to two paramedics on call; Todd Zobrist and Ty Barr, who had been asleep with about 90 minutes to go until the 7 a.m. shift change. Zobrist, an Army veteran of Iraq, is big on physical fitness. He’s been training for a triathlon – an endurance contest of running, biking and swimming. His least favorite part is swimming, Zobrist told me while describing that night’s twists and turns.
The men weren’t even out of the ambulance at the “lift assist” address when they heard urgency in the radio dispatcher’s voice. Everybody – EMS, fire, police – was needed at Silver Lake for a vehicle in the water.
The medics were amazed to find an SUV maybe 100 feet out in the lake, submerged within a foot of the roof, with its headlights shining underwater and windshield wipers slapping up small waves.
Volunteer firefighters would be coming with a boat and rescue suits, but when?
Despite a protocol to wait for special gear, Zobrist stripped to his pants and waded out. Slowed by the muddy bottom, he swam most of the 75-foot gap.
"The side window was open, or broken,
but nobody was there –
just a bluish-purple doll floating face-up.
He snared a leg; it wasn’t a doll."
Leaning down from the SUV’s roof, he expected to see an unconscious driver. The side window was open, or broken, but nobody was there – just a bluish-purple doll floating face-up. He snared a leg; it wasn’t a doll.
Zobrist did CPR on the lifeless infant and looked for the boat. Shivering and losing muscle control, he figured neither he nor the child would last long. So he held up the victim and did a back stroke for shore.
He said that Barr, confident his partner could make it, stopped police Officer Heather Kunz from jumping in.
Kunz lifted her uniform shirt and held the baby to her bare skin to hasten warming as another officer drove the ambulance to nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital. Barr provided lifesaving care while a soaked, half-frozen Zobrist did what he could from under a blanket.
“It was a team effort,” Zobrist told me. “Everybody played their role. If I hadn’t gone in, somebody else would have.”
He said the radio log showed they were on the scene just seven minutes. They never did see the boat. It turned out that a fire department vehicle, sent to tow it, had been delayed by a train.
Restored by warm IV fluids, Zobrist spent the rest of the day under blankets at home. He and his wife, Jessica, a paramedic in Breese, are parents of two young boys.
Cristy Campbell, who apparently had driven through a yard and into the water on purpose, was found dead of exposure and drowning in the lake several hours later. Court records show she had a long history of marital problems.
Oh, so how did the dislocated hip save the child? Zobrist said if he and Barr had been asleep at the station instead of awake in a running ambulance, it would have delayed them by a minute or two that little Julian didn’t have to spare.