“It was just the scariest thing ever,” Adrienne Armenia said Tuesday, a day after kneeling in the dirt on the side of Ocean Heights Avenue in Egg Harbor Township as strangers got her son breathing again.
She was taking her son, Anthony Alonso, to the doctor at 2:45 p.m. Monday when she heard him gasping for air and turned to see the 2-year-old’s eyes rolling back in his head.
Armenia pulled the child from the car, but he kept getting worse. Suddenly, a woman was there comforting her and helping the little boy.
Jose Ruiz — a police captain in Pleasantville — was was on his way to the hospital to see an injured relative when he saw the scene. At first, he thought the woman was carrying a doll. Then, he realized it was a child.
“Something’s wrong,” he said to his wife, getting out of the car. “I basically snatched the baby from them and put him on the ground.”
Ruiz could see the child had changed color. He checked the boy’s airway, but the mother said her child hadn’t had anything to eat. So, he started mouth to mouth.
As he worked on the boy, Egg Harbor Township police Officers Joseph Griffiths and Curt Ware arrived. Ware joined in doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the child began breathing.
“As I was giving him CPR, I could tell he was getting his color back,” Ruiz said.
An off-duty emergency medical technician was also there, monitoring them as they worked on the child, Ruiz said, but he did not know the EMT’s name.
Armenia wasn’t sure if that was the woman who helped or not. She just remembers a lady in a skirt with an ID badge around her neck.
“I truly want to thank her, she was awesome,” Armenia said. “I felt like she was my own mom there at the time.”
Armenia didn’t get a chance to really thank any of her son’s “angels,” as they rushed into the ambulance when it arrived.
At the hospital, she learned Anthony’s high fever had caused a seizure, common in children between 6 months and 6 years. But Armenia had never seen Anthony have one. She just knew the medicine she gave him wasn’t helping the fever, so she headed to the pediatrician in Somers Point with her boyfriend driving. As they got near Swift Drive in the township’s Bargaintown section, Anthony became distressed. That’s when Armenia’s boyfriend stopped the car and called police.
Ruiz — who had been heading to Shore Medical Center in Somers Point himself — got to check on the boy at the hospital. He was surprised Egg Harbor Township police had released his name, and said that he was just doing what he had been trained to do.
“I’m just glad I was there at the time,” he said. “I know, as a parent, you panic. That’s why it’s good for anyone with small children to learn CPR.”
“I’m just so grateful to people for being around that were so willing to help,” Armenia, 23, said from her Mays Landing home, where she got little sleep as she tended to her son through the night.
It was especially appreciated that police helped, since she comes from a law enforcement family. Her father, Salvatore, is Somers Point’s former police chief.
Because of her background, she said, she was especially grateful to the officers. But she was tired too, and needed some sleep Tuesday before personally thanking them, she said.
Anthony has a doctor’s appointment today to make sure he’s OK: “I’m sure everything will be fine,” Armenia said.
Contact Lynda Cohen:
Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen