18 May 2016

The 911 Call

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Ambulance Pic from NG

 

I lost my cell phone at some point during the scuffle.  I needed it desperately to call for help.  My immediate thought was to get to it so I could shield the kids from the carnage that surrounded me.  I raised my body up with my elbows and tried to crawl forward. I couldn’t move.  Now I was really scared, as I was gravely aware of the fact that I was in trouble.

 

I couldn’t afford to panic.  I remember making deliberate efforts at breathing slowly and deeply.  If I could keep my heart rate down and if I could remain calm, then I might be able to somehow reduce the amount of blood loss.  I of course, didn’t have any idea of the extent of my injuries . . . I just knew that I was in bad shape.

 

After a few seconds I came to the realization that I might die in that closet and that’s when I started to scream for help.  Three of my four children were in the opposite end of the house watching cartoons. Because the TV was so loud, they didn’t hear the gunfire.  Thankfully though, they heard my screams.

 

My then 14-year-old son immediately ran to the house phone and dialed 911 for help. The other two started running down the hallway but for some reason my ten-year-old son turned back.  My six-year-old daughter continued on, stopping just short of the closet entryway where her father and I lay.  I asked her to look for my my cell phone and to bring it to me.  I told her to close her eyes and to make certain that she didn’t look at her daddy as she walked toward me.  I have no idea what she saw.

(She has only discussed her memories a few times since the shooting and I know this innocent and sweet little girl has struggled to forget that gruesome sight.)

 

I dialed 911.  The dispatcher took my information and informed me that another call had already come in from the residence. Rescue was already on the way.  My sweet Jason had made the call that saved my life.

 

The woman on the other end of the phone stayed with me the entire time.  She kept a conversation going for nearly fifteen minutes until rescue found me.  I was conscious the entire time and I remember my strength vanishing with every passing minute.  I got to a point where I could no longer hold the phone up to my ear.  It fell to the ground beneath me and I was too weak to pick it up.  I was starting to get really, really scared.

 

I could still hear the dispatcher’s voice and she continued to keep me engaged in conversation.  I gave her directions to my location in the closet, which she passed on to the county sheriff arriving at the scene.  He found us in the most remote tucked away corner of the house.

 

“Put your hands up,” was the first thing he yelled with his gun drawn.   I pleaded with him that I couldn’t, that I had been shot 3 times and was lying helpless on the floor.  I told him that my husband was dead and I begged him to get me immediate help.  Two officers then walked over to my lifeless husband and I remember one saying “Oh Shit!”, when they approached his body.  They then placed handcuffs on Gabe’s dead hands.

 

(Most everyone employed with the Champaign County Sheriff”s office knew us and the first responders had to be in a state of shock and disbelief.)

 

When paramedics finally got to me, I remember them cutting my clothes off to assess my injuries. I even remember what I was wearing – a pair of jeans, my favorite Coach leather belt and a blue turtleneck that was the shade of my son’s high school colors.

 

(My oldest was at a high school regional basketball tournament.  I was dressed in his school colors and had planned on going to one of the final games of the season.  But for some odd reason at the last minute, I decided to stay home with the other three children.)

 

The closet was narrow and they had difficulty getting me on the stretcher.  When they lifted me, the pain  was absolutely unbearable — my leg was shattered and the damage was severe.  After some time, I was stabilized enough to transport – out of the closet, through the main part of the house, down the front steps and into the ambulance.

 

I later found out that the children were led away by law enforcement so they wouldn’t see my broken body carried out to the ambulance.  My daughter recalls a very compassionate female police officer walking her and her brothers down our driveway. She told them to sit in her police car and she gave them a blanket to keep them warm.

(My baby girl doesn’t remember much more as she then fell asleep in the backseat of the squad car while I was being transported to the hospital.  I don’t know who this woman was but I thank her for taking care of my children and for the kindness she bestowed on them in the midst of their horror.)

 

The distance from my front door to the ER was less than four miles but the ride seemed to last for an eternity. Every bump, every turn, every movement no matter how slight caused me to scream in agony. My eyes were closed throughout the trip but I remember the sound of the sirens as the ambulance maneuvered through traffic. I remember having an awareness that all the commotion and all the noise was because of me. Most of all, I remember being in a tremendous amount of excruciating pain.

 

When we got to the ER, they took me to a trauma room for evaluation. The nurses lifted my broken body onto the bed of the MRI machine in an effort to assess the seriousness of my injuries.  Any and all movement was unbearable torture.   I remember praying and begging for them to put the mask over my nose and mouth so I could drift off to sleep and not suffer any more.

 

Thank God that moment finally came . . .

 

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