‘He saved my life’
NEW CASTLE — Her memory is not as clear as it used to be — there are gaps, and her mental timeline is fuzzy — and she has to be mindful of how far she walks because her legs have not regained the strength they once had. But Toni Hauser is alive, a fact she attributes to her 15-year-old son, Braxton.
“That’s my hero right there,” she said nodding in son’s direction. “He saved my life.”
It was a normal — as normal as it can be in the Hauser home — day on April 11. Braxton was in the kitchen with his friend, Patrick Lewis, making a sandwich. Toni was in the living room with her 2-year-old grandson, Jeffery McFarland. Earlier in the day, Braxton wanted to go out, but Toni said no, and the two had a brief fight. Bill Hauser, Toni’s husband and Braxton’s father, was at New Creation Church taking a class. Braxton and Patrick were walking back to his room when they heard a crash.
Toni had collapsed in the living room. Patrick called 911 — Braxton’s phone was in his room at the other end of the home. Dispatcher Tiffany Tittes answered the call at 12:41 p.m.
“911 where is your emergency?” she asked.
“My friend’s mom is choking. She’s on the ground right now,” Patrick responded.
There is screaming in the background. “Mom,” Braxton yelled repeatedly.
Tittes asked Patrick for the address and if Toni was breathing.
What you cannot hear is Braxton’s actions. Almost immediately he grabbed his nephew Jeffery and ran outside to a trampoline on the side of the house. He put Jeffery on the trampoline and zipped up the safety net enclosing it.
“I don’t know … it just came to me,” Braxton recently said.
Returning to the living room, Braxton and Patrick flipped Toni on her back, per Tittes’ instructions. Her face was swollen and there was blood trickling out of her mouth. Braxton took the phone from Patrick and started describing Toni’s condition.
“Is she awake?” Tittes asked.
“Her eyes are open but she … I don’t know. She’s not in it — she’s not here,” Braxton answered.
Tittes started giving CPR instruction when paramedics arrived on scene less than six minutes after being dispatched. Braxton said he was already making compressions when emergency responders entered the house. With one shock from a defibrillator, paramedics regained rhythm in Toni’s heart and transported her to Valley View Hospital.
Doctors still do not know exactly what happened to Toni on April 11, Bill said. She remained in a medically induced coma until April 18. After waking from the coma she fell into a state of intensive care unit psychosis. “She was pretty violent,” Bill said.
Doctors detected what appeared to be a tear in her aorta. She was transported to University of Colorado Hospital in Denver, but tests there revealed that the tear was actually calcified tissue. Further testing could conclude with certainty what happened to Toni. The one thing doctors at both hospitals did agree on with absolute certainty was that Braxton saved her life, Bill said.
Many people, regardless of age, struggle following instructions in emergency situations, said Tittes, the dispatcher who fielded the call that day. In her four years with Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority, Tittes has handled some difficult calls, and often there is an incredibly emotional person on the other side, which makes it difficult to gather the information needed to give instructions, she said.
“I’ve definitely had to give instructions, but usually you don’t get that far,” she said. “I really attribute it to him. He saved his mother’s life.”
After nearly 40 days, Toni returned home May 20. Excluding the past couple of weeks, most of 2015 has been wiped from her memory. Bill had to explain to her why she was in the hospital. She learned that she missed Braxton’s 15th birthday and other family milestones — which motivated her to get home as soon as possible. “If you don’t see them and know what they’re doing you miss a lot,” she said of her family.
When she started rehab on May 14, she told the doctors she would be out in seven days. She left six days later, and although she is still adjusting to some of the after effects of her experience, she is, above all else, happy to be alive and back with her family.
“I’m doing real well considering I’m supposed to be dead,” she said.
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Rifle police are investigating a one-vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian Wednesday morning.