Boy’s rescue called miracle

Published: April 19, 2007 | 6020th good news item since 2003

It started off as a call for a child choking at TooJays Gourmet Deli in Stuart on a beautiful Sunday morning in March.

It ended with what’s been called a miracle.

“Some things are unexplained and this is one of them,” said Lt. Vincent Felicione, one of three Stuart emergency workers who revived 31/2-year-old Keegan Kinsley while his mother and a restaurant full of patrons prayed.

Dr. Jim Hayes was working in the emergency room at Martin Memorial Medical Center when the blond-haired boy was brought in that morning, apparently none the worse for having been without oxygen for double the time it normally takes to cause irreversible brain damage.

“I told everyone then it was a miracle,” Hayes said.

On Tuesday, Keegan played happily with his new toy firetrucks and munched cake in his honor at Stuart’s Monterey Extension Fire Station, remembering little of his ordeal other than the ambulance ride and that his “tummy” hurt.

“They teach all of us if you don’t have oxygen for four to six minutes, irreversible brain damage can occur,” Felicione said, noting that Keegan had no air for at least nine minutes before the rescue workers were able to dislodge the large purple grape he had snatched from his mom’s fruit bowl.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t really think this was going to be a good outcome,” Felicione said in the language of a profession where bad outcome means death.

Joni Kinsley, who lives in Vero Beach and was having lunch with a friend, said she credits the overwhelming outpouring of prayer with helping the rescuers bring back the boy she adopted from Russia 10 months ago.

“I was down on my knees praying,” she said. “They were holding hands at the tables praying.”

She said she can’t find the words to thank everyone who helped save the life of her only child.

“God didn’t work so hard to bring us together to have it turn out any other way,” she said. “I think I saw America that day.”

And those who were there saw something they won’t forget.

Stuart police officer Phil Lagalo Jr. was just around the corner when the call came out and he was there in less than a minute.

It was Sunday brunch time and the place was packed with customers, all focused on the small boy a man was trying to revive in the middle of the dining room.

“There was a group of elderly ladies chanting the Lord’s Prayer,” Lagalo recalled.

Keegan was thrashing his arms and legs, struggling to stay alive but unable to cough out the grape or catch a breath.

Keegan’s mom, a pair of nurses who happened to be at the restaurant, an off-duty firefighter and Lagalo all tried the Heimlich maneuver and anything else they could think of.

“It wasn’t working. He passed out,” said Joni Kinsley.

Firefighter Jonathan Huneycutt and Felicione and Leroy Ehret – both fire-medics, a combined firefighter and paramedic – arrived about three minutes after Lagalo. It was then about five minutes after the initial 911 call.

Keegan was still struggling, but he was losing strength and the color was draining from his face. His lips were turning blue and his teeth clenched in an involuntary spasm that prevented the rescuers from going down his throat to get at the grape. They had to rely on persistence.

They moved him and pounded his back, pushed under his ribs, forced air into his mouth with an oxygen mask – anything they could do to move the blockage.

For nine minutes, they worked as patrons prayed and shouted, “Don’t let him die.”

Suddenly, Ehret saw a large bulge in the boy’s cheek. It was the grape. Air started to move into his lungs.

He wasn’t crying yet, but he could move his arms and legs. His eyes focused. He was back.

As he was loaded into the ambulance, the crowd burst into cheers and applause for the rescuers.

“Without their save, he would have died … A lot of people were praying,” Hayes said.

Published in Kids & Teens, Miracles
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