Good News Blog

Miracles

Saturday, Sep. 17, 2005

Hurricane yields a miracle

John Paul Rogers, born one month early by Caesarian section at Bridgeport Hospital, came all the way from New Orleans to enter the world and escape the devastation Hurricane Katrina wreaked on his parents’ hometown.

John Paul was delivered Wednesday — believed to be the first birth to the roughly 600 people evacuated to Connecticut from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

The boy’s parents were displaced from their New Orleans home Aug. 28 and flew north to stay with relatives in Shelton.

“John means the graciousness of God — that’s why we called him John. God has been gracious to us,” said the Rev. Miner Rogers, John Paul’s father. He said his wife, Shawn, endured many complications during her pregnancy.

That’s part of the reason why the family fled New Orleans as soon as they did, nearly two days before levees broke and flooded the city.

“I had a very bad feeling about this storm,” Rogers said of Hurricane Katrina. “I knew it was going to be bad. I knew we had to get out of there.”

The Rogers family had made arrangements to have their baby delivered by Caesarian section in New Orleans, but the mass evacuation of the Crescent City abruptly changed that plan.

They found a willing team of doctors at Bridgeport Hospital to take on their case, and they’re glad they did.

“They’ve been wonderful, phenomenal,” said Shawn Rogers, who held her baby Friday morning while doctors who performed the surgery visited her.

“I feel good,” she said, smiling despite the surgery she’d been through Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Kenneth Thomas and Dr. Robert Stiller were among the physicians tending to her.

“What happened in New Orleans [with the hurricane] was a tragedy, and everyone wanted to find ways to help,” said Stiller, who suggested that Bridgeport Hospital taking on the high-risk pregnancy was a good way to help someone from the stricken city.

John Paul is the couple’s fourth child. Also in the family are son Keland, 18; daughter Lindsey, 12; and son Corban, 3.

The next step for the Rogers family is to find work in Connecticut, since their jobs in New Orleans were wiped out by the hurricane.

Miner Rogers is a full-time Baptist minister, and Shawn Rogers is a mortgage originator.

“We probably could go back to our house in New Orleans, but there are no jobs,” Shawn Rogers said.

As for the congregation of 10,000 at Miner Rogers’ church, Beacon Light International Baptist Cathedral, “we’re scattered all over the country. We’ve evacuated as far west as Arizona and as far east as Connecticut,” he said.

The family is staying with relatives Orlando and Kim Soto in Shelton. Orlando Soto is a sergeant with the Stratford Police Department.

“We’re trying to deal with what we need to do if we don’t go back to New Orleans,” Miner Rogers said.

The Rogers family isn’t the only one in that predicament.

Elsewhere in the Naugatuck Valley, a partnership of the Valley Council of Health and Human Service Organizations, the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Needs and Opportunities project announced a plan Friday to assist Hurricane Katrina evacuees who have relocated to the area.

The task force has identified eight families with 15 individuals being housed in the Valley, and is seeking to identify others that it may be unaware of. TEAM Inc. has offered to assign a case worker to work with the evacuees and serve as their advocate to identify specific needs they may have, and connect them with government and nongovernment resources. Help may include housing and household items, employment, financial assistance and health-care services.

“With the assistance of the Valley Chapter of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, our case worker will meet with each of the families and individuals next week and hopefully by the end of the week we will ensure that they have been connected with FEMA, the state Department of Social Services and other state agencies and that we have identified the specific needs of each of them,” said Richard Knoll, executive director of TEAM, in a statement.

Miracle boat story

As the rubble clears, workers hand out supplies, and evacuees try to return to normal, stories of miracles abound here in the Deep South.

Sometimes, miracles really do come true. Outside the Victory Praise and Worship Center on Chicot Street in Pascagoula, a small tunnel hull boat rests its bow against the front, now plywood, door of the church. The boat has been resting there since Hurricane Katrina struck Mississippi on August 29, and rumors of it’s appearance have become known in the Pascagoula and Gautier communities simply as “The Boat Story.”

If you ask Pastor Myron Hairston, the boat is a living testament to the ship God sends his people in times of trouble. He recounted the story of his parishioners, who literally caught the boat to safety.

“I’ll tell the story as best I know it. What happened, the night of the hurricane, was that some of the members of this church were trapped in their homes. The water began to rise waist high and they began praying, and while they were praying they were also looking for a way to get out of the water because it was rising and rising so fast in the house they thought they were going to drown. They even thought about going across the street and stealing a couple of boats but they didn’t have to do that.

“As they were done praying, one of the ladies looked out the window and saw that God had provided this boat and they got on this boat with about 14 people in it and two German Shepherd dogs.

“One of the big strong guys who was part of the boat crew pushed the boat one, two, three blocks to this location right here (at the church’s front door). They crawled out of the boat, knocked out that door right there, and they went upstairs and they stayed there for a week. This is just a testimony of what God will do when we pray and when His children are in trouble.”

Friday, Sep. 16, 2005

Medical Breakthrough Saves Local Twins

Physicians at UC San Diego Medical Center performed the first in-utero surgery in Southern California to save the life of two unborn twin boys, hospital officials announced Thursday.

The procedure, known as fetoscopy, was performed at 20 weeks gestation to correct a deadly condition known as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, where one twin was receiving too much blood and the other not enough.

“So one baby ends up with the lion’s share, while the other becomes quite anemic from lack of blood,” the surgeon, Dr. David Schrimmer told local media.

The babies’ mother, Millie Taulau, called the surgery a “miracle.”

“It’s amazing that the surgery went fine and everything went successfully,” Taulau told reporters.

Without the intervention, UCSD Medical Center officials said the twins would not have survived the pregnancy.

The babies were born prematurely at 29 weeks on Sept. 12 and are being cared for at the UCSD Infant Special Care Center in Hillcrest.

UCSD is the first medical center in Southern California to employ fetoscopy to save the lives of fetuses with life-threatening conditions, hospital officials said.

Guided by ultrasound, physicians used a laser, or photocoagulation, to close the blood vessels on the surface of the placenta so that the babies no longer share blood vessels.

The procedure takes about two hours.

Thursday, Sep. 15, 2005

60 y.o. Mum’s miracle 8-day survival after crash

A 60-year-old woman who survived eight days trapped and tormented by ants and mosquitoes after crashing down a deep creek bed is in a serious but stable condition.

Mrs Kathryn Ellacott’s family, who went to great lengths to track her down, told smh.com.au today they were “just ecstatic” after being on an “emotional roller-coaster” for the past week.

Mother of four Mrs Ellacott was found alive yesterday more than a week after her Holden Commodore plunged about 70 metres down a steep embankment in the Paluma Range, after crashing off a winding mountain road about 60 kilometres north of Townsville.

She had survived by drinking water from a nearby stream and sheltering under a rock in the rugged bush.

“It’s just amazing, absolutely amazing. We are just ecstatic. All of us put in a huge effort to find her and she’s well and it’s just amazing,” Mrs Ellacott’s niece, Leonie, said.

The 22-year-old flight attendant visited Mrs Ellacott in Townsville hospital yesterday.

“She was very weak. All she could say is how much she loves us. She’s had a big ordeal being in the bush for nine days,” Leonie said.

She said her aunt’s disappearance was totally out of character and the family did all it could to find her.

“For a week straight as a family we searched non-stop. My cousin went in a helicopter. We gave out a thousand pamphlets and posters. We did anything possible to find her because she’s very precious to us all,” she said.

It was just by chance that a family friend spotted the skid marks that lead to her crashed car, Leonie said.

“It was a family friend who knows the area quite well. They had been up a lot in the area hiking. [It was] just on a hunch they found her car,” she said.

After seeing the skid marks he used a pair of binoculars to search for the vehicle.

“He saw the bum of the car [and] saw the rego number. Then he alerted police,” she said.

Leonie said her entire family was still celebrating the fact Mrs Ellacott has survived.

“It’s just been a long emotional roller-coaster and we are over the moon.”

AAP reports:

Police Inspector Warren Webber said investigators won’t speak to Mrs Ellacott until doctors have given the all clear.

“She did suffer some fairly extensive and severe lacerations and she was bitten by ants and mosquitoes and that sort of thing, and I would suggest that there’s probably a very good risk that some of her injuries have become infected.”

Inspector Webber said he was amazed she was not more badly injured.

“Certainly I haven’t seen one with such a good outcome … it’s tremendous that after a week of being missing in that country and after a road accident that Mrs Ellacott is in the condition that she’s in,” he told ABC Radio.

Mrs Ellacott was winched up to a helicopter after being found in the deep creek bed and flown to Townsville hospital.

“When we unloaded her, she smiled and thanked us,” rescue helicopter Phil Frost told ABC Radio.

Mr Frost said the area where Mrs Ellacott was found was extremely rugged.

“It was very thick foliage. The winch was probably from about 120 feet high. It was on a very steep embankment – almost a cliff with high cloud starting to stem from the tops of the mountains,” he said.

Inspector Webber said police were unsure why the child-care worker was driving in the range, the most southerly point of the Australian Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

“We’ll be endeavouring to speak to Mrs Ellacott when we can and clarify a couple of points,” he said.

Mr Ellacott’s family launched an extensive search – which included a massive doorknock from Cairns to Charters Towers, an aerial search of the region and a leaflet drop throughout the state – after she disappeared on her way to work.

She was found when a family friend noticed skid marks leading off the edge of a steep embankment.

Inspector Damien Irvine, one of two rescuing officers, said he was shocked to hear Mrs Ellacott calling out to him as he abseiled down the embankment.

“We continued on down into a large creek bed … and we were calling out her name but we really didn’t expect anyone to reply to us,” he told the Nine Network today.

“We’d probably done about 40 or 60 metres along that creek bed and I just turned to speak to my colleague and I heard Mrs Ellacott shouting out, which was amazing.

“She was only about four metres away from me. She was in a bad way but she was certainly conscious and able to speak to us and she was curled up under a rock for some shelter.

“I was quite amazed at the condition she was in for the injuries she had.”

Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2005

A walking miracle

THE word miracle, like the word hero, is perhaps a little overused in this imprecise world of journalism.

But this is a freaking Miracle . . . Scout’s honor.

“I can walk about 20 feet, I get a little tired but, man, I can walk with my canes,” said Eugene Stolowski from Room 126 at the Kessler Institute in West Orange, N.J.

His wife, Brigid — who gave birth to twins Kaetlin and Kaeli while her husband was struggling for life — had her own take on the miracle.

“The doctors were pretty frank and said he had a 5 percent chance of survival,” said Brigid, as she was preparing her Orange County house in Florida, N.Y., for a massive homecoming around about noon tomorrow.

Gene was one of the six who went out that window in a burning Bronx building on Jan. 23 to escape certain death by flames.

Curtis Meyran and John Bellew — heroes both, and it’s not a word overused in this instance — perished on Black Sunday.

Stolowski survived along with Brendan Cawley, Joe DiBernardo and Jeff Cool, all helping each other out in the face of an inferno.

“It’s going to be so great to see my older daughter, Briana, at home, and the twins who goo-goo and ga-ga at any encouragement — they smile all the time,” said Stolowski.

“OK, I’m not going to run the 100-yard dash, but I’m lucky to be alive. But at the same time, I feel so sad and so bad for my brothers who didn’t make it.”

Now here’s why it was a miracle. When Gene leaped out of that blazing building and dropped 50 feet onto the concrete, he had broken legs, broken ribs and a pelvis shattered in five places.

But you know what else? And even as Brigid retells it, I get a bit queasy: “His skull was separated from his vertebrae.”

I can now say publicly, what I thought secretly and darkly, that Gene Stolowski did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of living. Oh me of little faith!

“I wasn’t sure myself,” said Brigid, “but you’d be amazed what prayer can do.”

Amen.

Tomorrow, Gene will be greeted by fellow firefighters as he leaves Kessler Institute. Everyone east of Orange County better block their ears — Gene the Machine is a comin’ home.

Littlest miracle: Alexis a featured child for March of Dimes

Alexis Ann Barber will celebrate her first birthday later this month.
Her parents, Justin and Amy (Nieland) Barber, call her their miracle baby, and feel very blessed to have her.

Born Sept. 27, three months before her due date at Blank Hospital in Des Moines, she barely tipped the scales at 1 pound 6 oz. and measured only 13 inches.
At nearly a year, she now weighs 12 pounds, and is 28 1/2 inches long, barely bigger than some babes at birth.

She is a happy little girl, and always has been, despite the many health problems she has had to contend with.
She is now quite healthy and is doing many of the things that babies her age are doing.
She loves to play patty cake and is crawling.

“We feel so blessed to have such an awesome girl,” said Amy, who grew up in Newell and where her parents, Bruce and Robin, still reside.

The young Barber family resides in Clive.

Amy, a teacher, and Justin, who now owns his own business, met while attending college at Buena Vista University.
His parents are Glenn and Kathryn Barber.

The 2003 graduates were married and were anxious to start their family.

They were expecting their baby to arrive Dec. 22.

Amy was diagnosed with HELLP, which results in skyrocketing blood pressure and potential liver damage.

The young couple knew their baby needed more time to develop but there was no choice but to deliver her by emergency C-section.

They decided at first sight that their perfectly formed princess was a gift of God.

One of the most immediate concerns was to close a valve in her tiny heart.

When she was a mere six days, the surgery was performed and successful.

There were a few close calls where they thought they were going to lose her but from the beginning, Alexis has been a fighter.

“We are so glad she is,” said Amy.

Strong faith and support from family and friends have helped Amy and Justin deal with the difficulties.

Getting her to gain weight was also a concern.

Her first feeding in the hospital consisted of 1/5 of a teaspoon of her mother’s milk. Due to complications, a feeding tube was inserted. The tiny baby was much more easily feed in this manner and the milk was more tolerable.

The amount of feedings was gradually increased and Alexis was off and running to gaining weight!
Amy and Justin were told to expect that their daughter would be in the hospital until at least her due date but as it turned out, she remained until Feb. 3.
By that time, she had tipped the scales at 6 lb. 7 oz.

Everyone was quite pleased with the results.

“The nurses there called her Spitfire from the beginning,” said Amy, “because she was so active.”

Alexis had many other obstacles to cross during the months in the hospital.

She was on a ventilator for some time, keeping her free of infection was a challenge, she encountered an enlarged spleen and liver and was dealing with kidney problems.

In the beginning, Amy and Justin could not hold their daughter.
“That was probably the hardest,” Amy said, pointing out that she saw many other premies and sick babies on the hospital floor that were on being cuddled by their moms or dads.
“It broke my heart that I couldn’t hold her.”

It was an “awesome” feeling to finally hold their daughter.

Alexis was so tiny at first that Justin’s wedding ring fit her wrist, with room to spare.

Diapers were no bigger than Amy’s palm.

“It’s unbelievable to look back now and see how tiny she was,” Amy said.
Today, many people comment about how tiny Alexis is when they are told she is nearly a year old but to her parents, she is now big.

“We were so flooded with calls when she was born that we decided to start a web site,” Amy said.

It has also been a place to place pictures of Alexis for all to see. Grandma Nieland gave Alexis a Cabbage Patch doll while still in the hospital. The doll was used as a makeshift measuring stick when Alexis was only a few days old. She of course was dwarfed by the doll.

It was decided to continue taking monthly pictures with the doll to measure her progress.

Finally, at the age of nine months, she was the same size and now she is bigger than the doll.

While her parents are at work, Alexis is able to be at home and receive care from nurses.
Her parents are pleased that she doesn’t have to be taken to the day care and be exposed to germs that may be flying around from other children.
She still is equipped with a feeding pump, filled with with high calorie fluids to help the little girl gain more weight.

She also must see a kidney specialist in Iowa City on a regular basis.

“Alexis is very feisty and she isn’t afraid of anyone,” her mom said, attributing this to so much attention while in the hospital. She is also a very happy girl. She smiles all the time. We feel so very blessed to have her. We made a lot of acquaintances while she was in the hospital and some of those babies didn’t make it. She really is our miracle baby. God’s worked hard for her. He must have some awfully big plans for her.”

Alexis will be one of several babies featured as a Miracle Baby at the March of Dimes Banquet in Des Moines.

Thursday, Sep. 1, 2005

Premature miracle

Aiden McKerracher was born on January 10 weighing only one pound, three ounces. He was premature by three months.
“They said not to expect him to cry,
Nicole McKerracher said. “But he came out screaming!

Ric McKerracher felt that was a sign his son was going to be a fighter. “He was one of the smallest babies they had even seen,
he says. “He was only 550 grams. They said that a 500-gram baby was viable. He just made it by half a chocolate bar.

The baby was five months in the neonatal care unit at Kingston General Hospital before he was allowed to come home. He now weighs eight pounds, seven ounces, and despite still requiring oxygen, he is alive and well.
“It’s amazing,
Ric says.
The McKerrachers still have to be very careful the baby does not get an infection. They sanitize their hands before handling the infant and only allow close family to hold him. “Even a cold would hospitalize him,
Nicole says.
While the baby was in Kingston in the isolette, they were allowed to just put a hand in but could not pick him up. Ric and Nicole took turns travelling to Kingston every day for visits.
“We couldn’t hold him for a month,
Nicole says. “That was hard. His skin was so translucent you could see right through it. He was very fragile.

Ric says the newborn was no bigger than his hand. They have photographs of the baby after he was born, at only 12 inches long. They took a print of his hand and foot and have it mounted in a frame on the wall.
“He was only 27 weeks in gestation,
adds Nicole, “but that was equivalent to 24 weeks.

The first few months were intense as the baby had to undergo surgery three times including laser surgery on his eyes. The baby needed five blood transfusions, with blood taken from his father.
“We almost lost him twice,
Nicole says. “It was very stressful.

She adds that physically he is doing really well now. He may need glasses at one year of age because he is nearsighted, and he is still getting hearing tests. His hand and eye coordination is good and he is very attentive. But they won’t know until he starts school if he has any learning disabilities.
Despite his size, Aiden already has a big attitude. “He didn’t like the nurses taking blood out of his foot and he would kick at them,
Ric smiles. “He’s a real fighter.

Both parents are very impressed at the technology available today for such infants and also at the level of care and caring from medical staff. They said they were glad for the healthcare system in Canada, with costs that would have been for a million-dollar baby in the United States. However, some parents were sent to Buffalo because of lack of space.
Aiden’s older brother Noah, two, is adjusting well to his new family addition. He was allowed to visit him in the hospital and even hold his hand and give him toys. The McKerrachers feel fortunate to have a supportive family as well, to pick up Noah from daycare while they are on the road.
“Premature babies are tougher in life,
Nicole says. “Everything happens for a reason. It is there to teach us something.

City mum talks of Walsgrave miracle baby

A MOTHER who defied diabetes and a heart attack to give birth to a healthy daughter has thanked Walsgrave Hospital for her miracle baby.

Toni Howe, of Wyken, was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of ten. Then on her wedding day five years ago the 30-year-old suffered a heart attack.

After spending her first week of married life in hospital, doctors first told Toni to wait at least a year before trying for a baby with husband Mark.

But then another doctor told her the devastating news a problem with her ovaries meant she was unlikely ever to conceive.

Despite the hurdles in front of her, Toni and Mark never gave up hope and, with the help of experts from Walsgrave, Toni gave birth to Saskia in March.

Speaking of her experience, Toni said she now juggled motherhood with her four injections of insulin a day.

“Having Saskia’s everything I had hoped it would be and more, she is such a happy baby,” she said.

Toni found support from doctors and nurses at Walsgrave’s preconception clinic, where she found out the problems diabetics were faced with on becoming pregnant.

Dr Aresh Anwar, a consultant in diabetes, said Toni’s story was an example to all diabetic women who wanted to have a child.

“She worked extremely hard to keep her diabetes under control during pregnancy,” Dr Anwar added.

“It’s fabulous to see her so happy with her new baby.”

Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005

Ruby’s a little miracle

RUBY Doland entered the medical record books before she was born!

The youngster was still in her mother Kelly’s womb when doctors carried out a blood transfusion on her at London’s Queen Charlotte Hospital.

Kelly, 27, was 17 weeks pregnant with Ruby when doctors discovered she needed the life-saving procedure and Ruby became the youngest baby ever to have a blood transfusion while still in her mother’s womb.

Doctors had discovered Kelly’s body was producing antibodies which were breaking down the baby’s red blood cells, causing anaemia and a condition called Rh immunisation.

The rare condition had already seen Kelly lose a baby in the womb at 34 weeks and when she had son Harry in 2002 she had to go through the procedure that saved Ruby when he was 22 weeks in the womb.

Doctors had to insert a long thin needle into Kelly’s stomach and into Ruby’s umbilical cord.

Thankfully, they hit their target first time and managed to carry out the transfusion and Ruby was born on May 31 at a healthy 6lb 13oz.

Kelly, who was brought up in the St Nicholas area of Stevenage and attended John Henry Newman School, talked about her ordeal at her home in Stanford Road, Southill, Bedfordshire.

“It was incredible that they got the cord first time. There was a risk the op could have caused her heart to stop beating,” said Kelly

“I cannot thank the wonderful doctors and hospital enough.

“Thank God both my children are healthy and gorgeous. Ruby still has to have blood transfusions. I will have no more children. I have a boy and a girl and my husband Neil and I are thrilled and very lucky to have two wonderful little children.”

Kelly and plumber husband Neil, 29, had gone through hell to make sure both their children survived and are fit and healthy.

“I could not go through all that again,” added Kelly.

“My body started producing antibodies after my first baby died in my womb and since then, every time I have become pregnant I have had trouble.

“But we are now happy with Harry and Ruby. Harry has been given the all clear now and no longer needs transfusions.

“It was worth all the pain just to see their happy little faces every day.”

Ruwan Wimalasundera, a consultant at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital’s foetal care unit, told the BBC: “This is the earliest blood transfusion we have on record and was particularly tricky because the pregnancy was so early.

“We would normally inject into the liver, but in this case because it was so soon the team led by consultant, Salesh Kumar, had to go into the umbilical cord. About 85 per cent of babies with this condition die if they don’t get the treatment.

Miracle of boy spiked in face

A TEENAGER escaped serious injury when he was spiked in the face by a wire mesh fence in a freak accident.

Daniel Codd, 15, was playing football on an artificial surface when he was injured.

Witnesses say Daniel had been diving for the ball and hit one of the metal spikes.

The other end of the 6ft section swung up and a spike embedded itself between one eye and the top of his nose.

An ambulance was called but Daniel would not fit into it with the fence hanging from his face, so fire crew were called to cut the boy free.

Sharp

Station Officer Ben Levy led the operation to cut the boy free at the playing fields at Clarendon recreation ground on Liverpool Street.

He said: “That sharp spike of fence could have easily put his eye out or gone beyond into his head.

“The force was only stopped because the spike hit bone.”

Mr Levy said: “By the time we got there the boy was quite calm and we first put him on a spinal board to keep him very still, then cut him free with bolt cutters.

“He was even able to help direct officers where to cut, as he had the best view of the fence, just inches from his eye.”

Nerves

Daniel’s mother, Julie Callaghan, learned of the accident when two boys ran to her Sedgefield Close home.

She said: “I didn’t see the accident actually happen but the boys came running up to me as soon as it had.

“My nerves are still all over the place you never know what could have happened.”

Daniel was taken to Hope Hospital, but later transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, in Pendlebury, where he was due to have surgery to remove the spike this afternoon.

Doctors also have permission to take pictures of Daniel for medical research.

Firefighters later taped off the area around the fallen fence.

Baby beats 1-in-13 million odds to survive

A baby has beaten odds of 13million to one to be born fit and healthy despite having grown in her mother’s abdomen, instead of her womb.

Doctors only realised Millie-An Pittman was in the wrong place when they performed an emergency Caesarean on her mum Lisa – who had originally been told she would find it hard to have children.

The baby, whose name is a play on words on “one in a million”, was delivered successfully weighing 8lb 7oz in one of only 100 such cases in the world ever. She is now four weeks old.

Abdominal pregnancy, which occurs in one in 10,000 cases, is usually spotted early and terminated because it puts the mother’s life in danger. The risk of death is nearly 1 in 200.

Baby’s strange position never noticed

Despite repeated scans during a painful pregnancy, Millie-An’s astonishing position beneath her mother’s stomach was never noticed.

Lisa, 37, who lost 12 pints of blood and needed emergency surgery after the birth, including a full hysterectomy and a bowel operation, said it was only as the incisions were made that the truth became clear.

“I was trying to be induced,” she told GMTV.

“It was only the fact that she wasn’t coming after trying so hard for so long they decided to do the C-section for that reason, and then it turned into an emergency C-section.

“She was growing in my abdomen. The placenta had fused itself to the bowel. Apparently then there’s oxygen and so forth being fed to the bowel so she was basically getting everything she wanted.

“I was quite poorly to begin with. It took me three days of recovery to get to even meet her.”

‘Millie-An is one in a million’

Lisa, from from Letchworth, Herts, added: “When I thought I couldn’t have children in the beginning, I always said if I ever had a little girl I’d have to call her Millie-An, because it’s one in a million that I would ever have a baby. And then she turned out to be one anyway.”

She paid tribute to staff at Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

“The aftercare I had was absolutely amazing,” she said.

Pregnancy expert Dr Sarah Jarvis told the programme: “It’s just astonishing. There’s only ever been 100 cases in the world ever.”

Dr Jarvis said it was “bizarre” that Millie-An’s position had not been noticed.

“What’s really astonishing is that Lisa had a scan at seven weeks because she’d had problems and had been told it would be difficult to get pregnant, she ended up having a scan even earlier than we’d normally do.

“That’s what makes this doubly amazing. We don’t use the word miracle very often.”

Millie-An’s position is thought to be the result of an extremely rare form of ectopic pregnancy – in which the egg develops outside the womb. Normally in such cases the fertilised egg implants itself in one of the fallopian tubes on its way to the womb.

But it can also fall out the tube and implant anywhere in the abdomen.

Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005

Man walks away after train drags car 200 feet

Kenneth Liptak Jr.’s car didn’t look like a car after being crushed, twisted and dragged by a train Saturday morning north of Valparaiso.

Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers who responded were shocked to see that Liptak not only survived the crash, but also managed to crawl out of the mangled metal and walk around.

“It was a miracle. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sgt. Charles Douthett said in a news release.

Liptak’s mother, Helen, said she was still in shock hours after hearing about the crash. She said “somebody up there” was looking out for her son.

The crash occurred at 7:50 a.m. Saturday at County Road 200 West and the CSX tracks, about two miles north of U.S. 6.

Liptak, 30, who lives just north of the crossing, was heading south to work at Four Seasons Nursery on U.S. 6.

He told police he pulled out of his driveway and immediately saw the lights and gates activated. He told police he saw a northbound car drive around the gates and then he looked for westbound trains, telling police the morning trains usually come from that direction. Liptak admitted he didn’t look in the other direction.

An eastbound train, which was traveling 55 mph, struck the passenger side of his 1990 Subaru Legacy station wagon, pushing the car 200 feet east of the crossing. The mangled wreckage landed upside down. Liptak, who police said had only minor bruises and declined medical treatment, was walking around the scene when police arrived. Police said the 6-foot-4 Liptak wiggled himself free from the wreckage.

Police, who ticketed Liptak for disregarding a railroad signal, said the crash shows the importance of obeying safety devices at railroad crossings.

The crossing was closed for three hours because of the investigation and cleanup.

Liberty Township firefighters and Porter hospital EMS joined Porter County police at the scene.

Saturday, Aug. 27, 2005

Miracle at sea

Seven-year-old Tianna stood outside Cape Cod Hospital Wednesday afternoon with an important message for her father.
“I want to say I love you … and I don’t want him to (fish) anymore.”
The youngster’s father, Andrew Joseph, 29, of Eastham, was one of two men pulled from a life raft earlier that day after their boat, the Northern Wind, capsized and sank Monday about 35 miles southeast of Nantucket.

The other survivor is Shawn Balestraci, 32, of Gloucester. The captain, Edward Smith, of Deer Isle, Maine, drowned when the 50-foot scallop dragger went down.

Tianna’s mother, Laureen Field, who has two children with Joseph, said the fisherman “seems OK. He was just really glad to see the kids. He’s very sunburned and dehydrated.”

Field said she pulled Tianna out of summer camp and rushed her to the hospital when they got the news Wednesday that the two men had been located and flown by the Coast Guard to the hospital. Both men were still hospitalized in stable condition yesterday, being treated for dehydration, David Reilly, a hospital spokesman, said.

“Both are shaken up and exhausted. They’ve been though a tremendous ordeal,” he said. “My understanding is the biggest issue is exhaustion.” Neither man has yet talked publicly about their harrowing experience, Reilly added.

The boat left late Sunday night from its homeport in Hyannis and was due back Monday night. The boat’s owner, Seth Wahlstrom, also of Eastham, reported it overdue that evening.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Newlin said the Northern Wind had a full array of safety equipment, including two life rafts, but the boat’s emergency radio beacon failed to activate when it sank. Coast Guard planes and boats searched the waters off Nantucket Tuesday and Wednesday.

Joseph and Balestraci were found by the fishing vessel Atlantic Queen and then picked up by a Coast Guard helicopter. They told the Coast Guard that Smith didn’t make it onto the life raft.

“He went into the water and wasn’t wearing his life jacket,” Newlin said. “They saw him go under the water.” Nonetheless, the Coast Guard had begun plans Wednesday night for a search, Newlin said.

Friday, Aug. 26, 2005

Miracle escape as fire destroys family’s home

A FAMILY home in Primrose Hill was destroyed when fire tore through the building.

Six crews attended the blaze at the flat in Regent’s Park Road after neighbours spotted thick, black smoke pouring from the first floor windows.

Firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire but had to cope with a potentially lethal back draft that forced them to retreat.

Leading firefighter Cos Papandronicou, of Belsize Park Fire Station, said: “When we were fighting the fire there was a back draft and luckily nobody was injured.

“It is quite rare for it to happen but it occurs when you get a build up of gases and then it is vented. It was quite an explosive force and slammed a door shut.”

The fire started in the kitchen of a first floor flat and spread through the house, where Labour councillor Sybil Shine owns a flat.

Nobody was in the house at the time but the owners returned to find firefighters at the scene.

Rupert Holmes, 47, who has been living at the house for 15 years, was in Moscow when his wife Julia sent him a text message to tell him about the fire.

He said: “There was a period of about 20 minutes when we didn’t know where the nanny and our children were, but luckily there was nobody at home at the time of the fire.

“I am just pleased nobody died – there was some substantial damage and if someone had been here they could have been badly hurt.

“Luckily most of our irreplaceable belongings, like photographs, were not damaged.”

Neighbour Sally Roter, 57, was having a garden party barbecue at the time.

She said: “I smelt smoke and I thought, ‘that isn’t the barbecue,’ so I went outside. There was black smoke billowing phenomenally out of the windows, although strangely enough I couldn’t see any flames.

“Lots of fire engines arrived – at one point I counted 12 – and they stayed until about midnight. The firemen had oxygen masks and there was a huge ladder going up to the roof.

“The road was closed completely and everybody in the park was watching. It was all very dramatic.”

Crews from Belsize Park, Kentish Town, West Hampstead and Euston were called to the scene at 4.30pm on Saturday. They battled the blaze until about 7pm.

Mr Papandronicou added: “The damage was quite substantial. As the house had been converted into flats we had quite a few false walls and ceilings which caught fire.

“We managed to stop it spreading to the roof but the kitchen was gutted and the back bedroom was smoke damaged.”

The cause of the fire is not known and is currently being investigated.

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2005

3% life chance baby celebrates 1st year

Laughter filled the hallway near the neonatal intensive care unit as the girl who was given a three percent chance of survival dabbled her hands in the frosting of her first birthday cake.

The pink frosting on the cakes said it all “Happy Birthday Miracle Baby Cora Rose.”

A year after her four month premature birth, doctors and nurses who helped Cora Rose Leone survive now helped her celebrate her first birthday in the hallway leading to the unit where Cora spent her first four months of life.

Her mother, grandmother and aunt brought her back to visit the people who cared for her.

The nearly 13-pound girl was the life of her party as doctors and nurses held her and remembered how far she had come.

Cora, the second smallest baby to survive at Loma Linda University Medical Center, was 14.5 ounces and 10.5 inches long at birth.

“She is amazing,” said her mother, Shawnda Rae Guptill-Leone. “We are very lucky.”

Aside from her small size, she is the picture of health and her mother spoke with pride about the baby’s attempts to walk and first words.

But tears of sadness mixed with tears of joy.

Cora’s twin brother, Dominic, only lived for two months.

“It’s a bittersweet day,” Guptill-Leone said. “If you could take a moment today, think of my son.”

Wendy Guptill, Cora’s grandmother, recalled how Dominic’s nurse, Annette Gross, cared for him and later, Cora.

“She is going to be our lifelong friend,” she said.

Both Gross and Annette Patel, her main nurse, and Dr. Elmar Sakala, who delivered Cora held the girl in the tiny pink dress during the visit.

“It is really exciting to know she is doing so well,” said Gross. “She is such as amazing baby.”

Our miracle is almost back to normal

BUBBLY Tyrone Mukiibi is back with his beaming family after surviving a 40ft horror plunge.

The 19-month-old toddler fell from a third-floor window last month but miraculously escaped with fractures to his face and a bruised liver.

He’s on the road to recovery after being discharged from King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, where staff dubbed him the miracle boy.

Mum Molly Mukasa, 24, said: “We’re so glad to have him back. He’s running around and is almost back to normal.

“It’s been very difficult but we’re grateful to the doctors and nurses and the neighbours who helped us.”

Molly, Tyrone, and dad Henry Mukiibi are staying with Henry’s mum, Juliet Magala, in Garnies Close, Peckham, while they look for a new home.

The shock of Tyrone’s fall has meant Molly hasn’t been back to their flat on Peckham’s Friary Estate since the accident on July 14.

More than a month later she’s still undergoing counselling as she tries to put the trauma behind her.

She said: “The memory of me looking down at Tyrone and blood coming from his mouth and nose keeps coming back.”

Molly said her depression was made worse by the length of time it was taking Southwark council to rehouse them.

The family are now squeezed into Juliet’s living room as Juliet and Henry’s two sisters sleep upstairs in the two-bedroomed home.

Molly added: “The housing officer said he wouldn’t be able to help me because he can’t see any reason why we can’t go back.

“I told him I was scared – terrified of this happening to Tyrone again. I just can’t go back there.”

A council spokesman said: “We are extremely sympathetic to the family’s situation and are assisting them with a rehousing application.”

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2005

Miracle baby reaches birthday

Although her birth certificate has her listed as Cora Rose Leone, friends and family of the 1-year-old girl simply refer to her as a “miracle.”

Born four months premature at a weight of just under a pound, Cora arrived at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital on Monday with her mother, Shawnda Leone, to celebrate her first birthday and show appreciation to the hospital’s doctors and nurses.

Wearing a tiny pink bow in her small crop of hair and a matching pink dress, Cora took turns being cradled and coddled by those in attendance, while her mother gushed about her little girl’s progress.

“She can’t quite walk yet, but she is able to scoot herself around and do that combat crawl thing,’ said Leone of Riverside. “And she can say basic words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada.’ It is just amazing.’

The day’s festivities were somewhat bittersweet for Leone, she admitted, referring to Cora’s twin brother, Dominic, who passed away two months after his birth.

“It’s a day to rejoice, a day to be happy,’ she said. “But it’s also a tough day for me.’

Cora was born weighing 14.5 ounces, with a visibly beating heart. She spent the first four months of her life in the hospital, developing much the same way she would have had she not been premature.

Dr. Elmar Sakala, the family’s obstetrician, said he has yet to see a baby born that early and be as physically and mentally capable as Leone’s now 12-pound, 8-ounce ball of joy.

“It has been touch-and-go since the beginning, but Cora has definitely exceeded all expectations,’ Sakala said. “She is really, truly a miracle baby.’

It’s an absolute miracle

A Coventry dad is back home after making an amazing recovery from a stroke he suffered on the holiday island of Majorca.

Doctors gave father-of-five Sammy Thompson little chance of pulling through after they rushed him to hospital when he collapsed while on a stag celebration with a group of friends.

But now Sammy, of Cheveral Avenue, Radford, is making plans to be there when his pal Richard James marries fiance Kelly Foskett next month.

The stag party group was left devastated when the 43-year-old collapsed at the resort of Palma Nova on July 4

Today Sammy said the ceremony, at Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Tile Hill Lane, on September 17 would be “hugely emotional”.

He said: “The doctors and all the surgeons were absolutely gobsmacked that I was able to walk and talk in such a short space of time after such a major trauma.

“They all thought I was history. “I feel so lucky to be alive and I honestly believe that what happened could not have happened in a better place. I received such good care.”

Sammy, an ex-Peugeot worker, spent a month at Miramar and then Son Dureta Hospital, in Majorca, following the stroke.

But he was well enough to be released from hospital 10 days ago and take a passenger flight back to the UK.

He underwent life-saving operations to relieve swelling to his brain and remove a blood clot after the stroke.

He is due to return to Son Dureta Hospital in May to have part of his skull sewn back on after it was removed during surgery. For now, Sammy said his sight remained hazy in his right eye and he could only stand up for short periods of time before becoming dizzy.

Sammy was helped by well-wishers who raised more than £2,000 to cover hospital bills. A fundraiser at Our Lady of the Assumption Social Club in Tile Hill Lane was among events organised.

Sammy, who has nine brothers and four sisters, said he was also relieved that brother Joe, 32, had recovered from a stomach ulcer he suffered in Majorca.

He spent a week at Son Dureta Hospital after his ulcer flared up.

Sammy’s sister, Colette, 37, of Warden Road, Radford, said members of the family were still pinching themselves at seeing their brother doing so well.

The mother of three said: “It is an absolute miracle that Sammy is up, about and walking – at first we were just relieved he was still alive.”

Sammy has two sons, Sammylee, 19, a factory worker, and Luke, 17, a student at City College, The Butts, studying performing arts.

Daughters Lauren, aged 11, Bethany, eight, and five-year-old Chloe live with mum Sharon Howe, 33, of Cambridge Street, Hillfields.

Monday, Aug. 22, 2005

Miracle Mum recalls events after the smash

AS she dealt with the shock of being pinned in her car by a 16-tonne shipping container, Kristy Jarvis was calm enough to know she had to turn down the Backstreet Boys.

“The radio was so loud. It’s funny what things you remember from the night,” she said.

“It was the Backstreet Boys, it was just the first song of the CD and I was lying across the car and reached across to turn the volume down.”

As the seriousness of the August 8 accident started to take hold, Ms Jarvis became nervous, before a stranger came to calm her.

“There was a nurse. She was three cars back, I think. She took my pulse and was speaking to me, assuring me that help would be there in a minute.

“I didn’t know who she was, but I would just love to meet her and say thanks. It helped me so much.”

Ms Jarvis was trapped for about 80 minutes in her Hyundai Excel before being freed by SES volunteers and ambulance officers.

“They (emergency crews) were just amazing.

They talked me through the whole thing, one ambulance officer just held my hand and chatted to me through the whole night,” she said.

“I’d like to thank them, they helped so much.”

Ms Jarvis’ seven-year-old daughter, Dakota, has a dream vehicle.

“She said to me yesterday, `can we get a Ferrari, mum?’. I’d be happy to be able to drive her anywhere in anything, but we just can’t afford it.

“The ANZ in Kangaroo Flat have offered me their spare car for loan – that was a wonderful gesture.

“Now I just have to try and drive again, I think I will be all right. I don’t know.”

Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005

Parents write miracle story after son survives car wreck

Hal and Bea Bea Whitlock knew their joy over their son Evan’s progress was too great to keep to themselves.

Evan, now a robust 7-year-old, continues to amaze them about two years after he was almost killed in a Sumter County wreck. The family’s journey prompted Evan’s dad to write and publish a book, “10-4, Good Buddy: A Miracle Story.” Evan’s mother contributed. So far, they have sold 800 books.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful story that didn’t need to stay quiet,” Hal Whitlock said.

The nearly 250-page paperback recounts the Turbeville family’s ordeal that began Oct. 4, 2003. Evan, his mother, great-aunt and grandmother were on their way to Columbia on U.S. 378 when a Ford Explorer crashed into their Chevy Blazer, critically injuring Evan.

The driver, James Brand, 57, of Lake City, was charged with felony driving under the influence, four counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, failure to stop for a blue light, being a habitual offender and not wearing a seat belt. A trial date has not been set for Brand, who is out on bond.

Evan spent months recovering at Palmetto Health Richland Children’s Hospital and Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta. He returned home for good in January 2004.

The book’s title came to Bea Bea Whitlock on Christmas Day 2003. A particular phrase kept coming to mind.

“I kept hearing, ‘10-4, good buddy,’” she said.

Puzzled at first, she realized “10-4” was Oct. 4, the day of the wreck. But what was “good buddy?” Then it came to her.

“God, you’ve been our good buddy,” she said.

She told her husband about it, convinced that’s what they should title the testimony they planned to share. They decided to take it a step further and write the book.

“Whether it sold, whether it didn’t, we knew it was a burden that was on our heart to do it,” he said.

Evan is at Scottish Rite this weekend to undergo a neuro-evaluation to check his progress, his dad said.

“He’s excited about seeing everybody in Atlanta. We just don’t know if they will recognize him. He is solid. When he left, they could pick him up and squeeze him. Now they can’t,” he said.

Even without the test, his family easily can see how far Evan has come from the little boy, once comatose, who had to learn to walk and talk all over again.

A second-grader at Walker Gamble Elementary School, Evan finished school last year on the principal’s honor roll and won a “ton of awards,” his father said.

“Evan is a brilliant, sweet child. He has a compassion that adults should long for. … We are learning more from him than he is from us.”

Evan’s next role will be that of a big brother. The Whitlocks are expecting their second child in February. They learned the news this past Father’s Day. Bea Bea Whitlock also found out she was pregnant with Evan on Father’s Day 1997.

“Evan is real excited. He wants a boy but said he’ll love a girl, too,” his father said.

Friday, Aug. 19, 2005

Waitress gets Porsche tip

A SWEDISH waitress thought her elderly customer was joking when he offered her his Porsche as a tip, but he kept his word and gave her the keys to the car, daily Aftonbladet has reported.
“I thought at first he was joking with me,” 19-year-old Josefin Justin told the paper.

Justin was waiting tables at the Njuraanger Cafe in Sundsvall in central Sweden when the man, who had recently retired and was dining with a group of gentlemen, asked her age.

When she told him, “he said I would get his Porsche as a tip.”

“At first I was a little suspicious but I didn’t get the feeling he was hitting on me or anything, he just seemed really nice,” she said.

She got his phone number and the next day when she called him, he said he remembered his generous offer. Accompanied by her father, she went to the man’s house to pick up her new car.

It turned out to be 1979 Porsche 924 worth 30,000 kronor ($5315).

“It needs a little work, a paint job among other things, but we checked it out and everything was fine,” Justin said.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, told the paper he couldn’t really explain why he gave her the car.

“I was just sitting there in the restaurant and looked her in the eyes and saw an angel and thought to myself ‘The Porsche, she should have it’,” he said.

Asked if he had any regrets, he replied: “No, absolutely not.”

The incident is reminiscent of the 1994 Hollywood movie It Could Happen To You starring Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda, in which a waitress becomes a millionaire when her customer offers to share his lottery ticket with her in lieu of a tip.

12-year-old eating for 1st time after medical miracle

Twelve-year-old Sylvia Craig chopped up a white onion so fast she could have been on a TV cooking show.

As she worked, she kept an eye on her sister, Andrea, stirring a large skillet of Hamburger Helper on the stove.

It was only about 4 p.m., a little early for dinner, but Sylvia was ready to eat.

Not unusual for a growing preteen. But for a child who for nearly 12 years was fed through tubes, her ability to wolf down Hamburger Helper with onions is a “medical miracle,” says her doctor, Mitchell Shub.

Gail Hull, Sylvia’s single mother, is ecstatic.

“I’ve been praying for this for 12 years,” she said.

Sylvia, of west Phoenix, was diagnosed as an infant with microvillus inclusion disease, an extremely rare genetic and often fatal digestive disorder reported in only about 50 people worldwide, including a cluster of cases among Navajos.

Shub, a gastroenterologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, believes that Sylvia, a feisty redhead with new braces on her teeth, is only the second MID patient in the world to begin recovering enough to eat real food.

Sylvia and the other patient, whose location was not disclosed, may have a milder but even rarer form of the disease that allowed their intestines to begin working, Shub said.

Still, Sylvia and her family suffered the same clinical horrors of the disease as children with other forms of MID: diarrhea, up to 14 hours a day hooked to intravenous feedings, lengthy hospital stays, infections and likely death in the early to midteens.

Without the intestinal hardware to digest food, MID patients survive on a liquid concoction of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals sluiced intravenously into the bloodstream to bypass the dysfunctional intestines.

Still the diarrhea persists, draining away 20 percent of the children’s body weight a day, 10 times faster than the normal rate.

Families live with a triple threat: dehydration, infections in the IV line and liver failure caused by the cocktail that substitutes for food.

Given the rarity of the disease, Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s 12 patients since the late 1980s makes “us one of the authorities worldwide,” Shub said.

Half of the 12 have died. Two have had bowel transplants, but it is too early to predict the outcome, Shub said. The remaining patients include Sylvia, who is White, two Hispanics and a Navajo.

In 1996, four of the hospital’s five MID patients were Navajo.

Experts believe that a small band that fled the 1863 Long Walk to New Mexico settled on the western edge of the of reservation, where a cluster of MID cases have been found. Forced to intermarry to survive, they increased the chances that two people with the faulty gene would meet and marry.

In the beginning, Sylvia’s story was much like the other children’s.

She weighed 5 pounds when she was born in Springerville in 1992. Premature, she had jaundice and struggled to breathe. Flown immediately to Phoenix Children’s, she remained for two days. Three weeks later she was back, suffering from severe diarrhea and vomiting.

When she was 3 months old, a biopsy of her intestine confirmed she had MID.

Like other out-of-town MID families, Gail moved to Phoenix to be near Sylvia.

“I never went back to Springerville,” she said. “It was awful watching my little girl suffer and not be the kind of mother who could do everything for her.”

The disease is also hard on siblings.

Andrea Hull, now 20, remembers coming going to the hospital to wait for her mother to leave her sister’s bedside.

“The nurses,” she said, “would help me with my homework.”

MID isolates children.

When Sylvia was well enough to go to school, she watched as other children ate their lunch.

“I got used to it,” she said.

Gail and Andrea tried not to tempt Sylvia by eating in front of her. But she was clearly curious, stirring up concoctions of flour, milk and spices, “and trying to get us to eat it,” Gail said.

A former land surveyor, Gail learned to look for infections and hang IV lines when Sylvia was well enough to come home from the hospital.

In addition to theIV nutrients, Sylvia was fed Tolerex, a predigested formula that flowed into her digestive tract first by tube and then by mouth.

“What made Sylvia unique is that she could tolerate the formula,” Shub said. “In the other kids, it made their diarrhea worse, and they got sicker.”

Encouraged by reports of the other recovering MID patient, Shub slowly weaned Sylvia off the IV concoction, upped the Tolerex, and a few months ago introduced rice.

“I hate rice,” Sylvia said, wrinkling her perky nose.

Also on the list of food she hates: applesauce and cereal.

Lying on a couch in her west Phoenix living room, Sylvia still sips on the Tolerex to help maintain her improving condition. But she also digs into a bag of Funyuns, a favorite, along with cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew and apples.

A career caregiver for 12 years, Gail now has time to look for a job.

“I’m clueless about what I want to do,” she said. “But I’m grateful for the miracle.”

6 yo Miracle girl 150ft cliff fall

A six-year-old girl escaped with just “bumps and bruises” when she plunged 150ft from a cliff top.

Demi-Leigh Tweddle’s parents watched in horror as the youngster from Middlesbrough fell at Filey, North Yorkshire, landing on the beach below.

Coastguard officials said the girl’s father Lee scrambled down the cliff to check on his unconscious daughter.

Coastguard Mark Clark said: “This girl is a miracle child. She must be made of rubber to have survived.”

Emergency services were alerted on Wednesday afternoon when her mother Sue rang for an ambulance.

‘Still in shock’

Coastguards found the girl suffering from head injuries at the bottom of the cliff next to the Blue Dolphin Caravan Park, where it is believed the family were staying.

A helicopter from RAF Leconfield and the Scarborough Coastguard Rescue Team also assisted.

The girl was flown to Scarborough Hospital, where police said she was “sitting up in bed and recovering well” on Friday.

The circumstances of the accident are not known.

Humber coastguard watch manager Mike Puplett said Demi-Leigh’s accident showed the need for people to take extra care near cliff edges.

“The father’s actions to go down the cliff were entirely understandable but we would caution against taking such risks with the potential for a second casualty,” he said.

“While the views in this location are magnificent they are better viewed from a safe distance.

“Unfortunately, the family will remember their holiday at Filey for all the wrong reasons.”

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2005

Miracle catch saves girl

A Brooklyn girl miraculously landed in the arms of a good Samaritan after tumbling from the roof of a three-story building yesterday, police said.

“I’m just so glad he reacted and wasn’t one of the people that just sat there and looked,” said the girl’s relieved aunt, Vanessa Cox, 30.

The drama unfolded after 6-year-old Karizma Cox had checked out of the Initial Steps Child Development Center in Flatbush for the day with her grandmother.

Karizma said she had to go back in to get something and then ventured alone to the rooftop play area where she had left her cookies, her family and officials said.

But the door to the roof locked behind her and no one heard her cries for help. So Karizma crawled onto the roof of an adjoining building and then tried to climb down the side – just as Mohammed Azaze Balde turned onto Glenwood Road to pick up some Chinese food.

“I saw her and I said to myself, I have to save her life,” said Balde, 25, an immigrant from Guinea in West Africa. “I decided that I couldn’t wait.”

As horrified onlookers begged the girl to hold on, Balde raced up the fire escape and made it to the second floor just as Karizma lost her grip.

The little girl slammed her stomach into the fire escape but Balde managed to catch her in his arms.

“I knew if I wasted any time, it was going to be dangerous,” he said.

Karizma was already talking and laughing at Kings County Hospital, where she was staying overnight for observation.

But relatives were stymied as to how the youngster made it to the rooftop play area alone.

The Health Department is investigating, a spokesman said.

Massive overhead sign crashes on highway: no-one hurt!

A massive overhead sign collapsed onto Interstate 64 during rush hour Wednesday morning, shutting down eastbound traffic virtually all day, but somehow not killing or injuring any one. (See popup photo)

The bizarre accident near Northampton Boulevard was caused when the hydraulic bed of a tractor-trailer dump truck inexplicably rose and smashed into the 120-foot-long sign structure, which plummeted 23 feet to the interstate.

A Norfolk woman’s car was crushed beneath the open bed of the dump truck when the tumbling sign snapped the truck in half, flipping the truck bed onto her car.

Incredibly, the 28-year-old woman, Tiffany Hairston, was able to crawl through the mangled metal and walk away from the wreck.

After an extensive cleanup, the Virginia Department of Transportation reopened the last eastbound lane at 3:25 p.m., about seven hours after the accident.

At its worst, traffic stretched six miles west to Chesapeake Boulevard. Repairs to the highway could take months.

Hairston was driving to work toward the Interstate 264 interchange around 8:40 a.m. when the accident occurred.

Eastbound traffic was flowing normally and Hairston was behind the tractor-trailer, which was not carrying a load. Her Honda Accord had just passed the Northampton Boulevard exit when she saw the truck drive under the sign.

In an instant, the truck’s bed smashed into the sign and the structure , which stretch ed across the three eastbound lanes and two HOV lanes , fell onto the highway. Hairston could not explain exactly what happened next, but said the bed catapulted toward her.

“After that, I don’t know anything because it was completely dark,” she said.

The bed fell on her car, flattening the passenger side but forming a 3-foot crevice large enough to allow Hairston to crawl out through the rear window.

“I don’t know how she did it,” said Sgt. Larry Montgomery of the Virginia State Police.

After the accident, Hairston stood with her husband, who had raced to the scene after hearing of the wreck, on the shoulder of the highway, her head resting on her folded arms.

“I thank God,” she said. “He blessed me through this. Find the Lord if you have not found him yet.”

State Police are still not sure how the truck hit the overhead sign and why it fell.

The structure is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, said VDOT spokeswoman Lauren Hansen. Police said the truck’s bed struck the sign with enough force to rip the bed from the truck’s frame.

The Kenworth truck, owned by P.L. Duncan Trucking Inc., skidded about 250 feet down the interstate before it jackknifed on the guardrail. The truck spilled about 120 gallons of diesel fuel and an unknown amount of hydraulic fluid.

Somehow, speeding traffic on the five eastbound lanes avoided hitting the sign and creating a chain-reaction pileup.

Witnesses called 911 at 8:38 a.m. Within two minutes, firefighters and rescue personnel arrived and the hazardous-materials team began to contain the spill.

Paramedics evaluated Hairston at the scene, but she refused medical attention. The truck driver, James Mills Jr., 50, of Burkeville, was not injured.

Mills was cited for an over-height violation, said Trooper John Havrilla. State Police are still trying to determine whether the truck malfunctioned or driver error contributed to the accident.

Traffic was detoured onto city roads until the high-occupancy vehicle lanes could be reopened, just before noon. Two eastbound lanes were reopened at 1:45 p.m. Less than two hours later, the last eastbound lane was reopened.

Mills declined to discuss the accident with The Virginian-Pilot. At the time of the accident, he was headed toward Chesapeake to pick up a load.

“We’re not sure what happened,’’ said Havrilla, who is investigating the crash. Mills “never knew his trailer was up. The next thing he knows, he ran off the road.”

Officials at Duncan Trucking in Columbia , about 45 miles west of Richmond, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the smashed sign was a mangled mess across the highway. VDOT workers toiled furiously to cut up the structure and its support beams on the HOV lanes.

The accident frustrated thousands of commuters who were stuck in traffic for hours, either on the interstate or on feeder roads.

Moments after the truck slammed into the sign, technicians at VDOT’s Smart Traffic Center in Virginia Beach saw the sign structure lying on the highway, but they were not sure how it got there, said Tim Fox , the center’s control room supervisor.

Using remote-controlled cameras, they zoomed in for a closer look and saw the truck bed. Still, they had no idea that underneath lay Hairston’s crumpled green Honda.

Engineers called State Police and VDOT’s Highway Safety Service Patrol.

VDOT closed access to the HOV lanes by lowering the entrance gates. At the time of the accident, HOV traffic was moving westward toward Norfolk Naval Station.

Dozens of motorists were caught between the fallen sign and the closed gates. They sat for hours before police let them out.

After the wreck, Norfolk changed the timing of traffic signals on major roads to accommodate the extra traffic from the highway.

For example, an additional 35 seconds were added to traffic lights on Military Highway . Also, lights along Granby Street near the I-64 off-ramp, and Little Creek Road near Chesapeake Boulevard and Military Highway, were retimed to allow for more traffic.

Nationally, accidents in which trucks strike overhead signs are rare, Montgomery said.

In 2003, a gravel truck destroyed an overhead sign bridge on Interstate 35 near Austin, Texas. The state eventually replaced the sign for $100,000.

In June 2004, a dump truck crashed into an overhead sign on the Crosstown Expressway in Tampa when the truck’s bed rose. The sign fell onto another truck but, as in Wednesday’s accident, no injuries were reported.

The Norfolk highway sign costs about $250,000 to $350,000. Repairs could be extensive. Besides replacing the entire sign and its supports, the foundations supporting the sign may need repair, too.

If workers have to replace the foundations, then part of the highway’s shoulder will be torn up to remove the concrete pad that the sign sits on.

VDOT plans to post a temporary directional sign for Northampton Boulevard .

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005

Girl makes her own miracle on ice

When the Walt Disney film empire released the movie “Miracle” last year, no one could have known what a profound effect it would have on one Yucca Valley teen-ager. “Miracle” is the story of the 1980 United States Olympic ice hockey team that defeated the unbeaten Russian Olympic team in the 1980 winter Olympic games. By defeating the Russian team and the subsequent come-from-behind win over Finland to win the gold medal, the 1980 team has often been called the Miracle on Ice.

Jamie Brislin, a senior at Yucca Valley High School, has been playing ice hockey for the last nine years for Southern California Amateur Hockey Association teams, notably the Palm Desert Knights, Desert Coyotes and now the Inland Valley Wild of Riverside. She has passed up opportunities to play on girls’ teams for the speed and physical contact of playing for boys’ teams.

Her tenacity has paid off with four playoff appearances, an SCAHA runner-up cup, two SCAHA championship cups and a California Amateur Hockey Association Championship over the last nine years.

The SCAHA Championship was played April 2 and 3 in El Segundo at the training center of the L.A. Kings, with Jamie’s team winning the Southern California Championship Cup. A week later her team played for the CAHA State Championship at the San Jose Logitech Center and finished third of four teams, winning two of their three games.

In March Jamie was accepted to North Country College of Essex and Franklin in Saranac Lake, N.Y., and was awarded an Adirondack Scholarship to matriculate there as well as play ice hockey.

Jamie plans to major in sports medicine and may coach after college.

Coach Todd Smith of the NCC Lady Saints is counting on Jamie to fit into his roster as a winger for the upcoming collegiate season.

Jamie had been looking at several other colleges in the East and Midwest, but when their coaches called trying to recruit her, she could only think of the words “hockey country,” which were the words Smith used to describe North Country College.

The Lady Saints of North Country College play many of their home games at the same ice rink that the Miracle on Ice occurred, the Lake Placid Olympic Arena. Each time she received a recruiting letter from another college, those words, “hockey country,” would play over and over in her head. She would remember the movie “Miracle” and the Lake Placid Olympic Center and she knew in her heart that “hockey country” was where she wanted to be.

This past season, North Country College had wins over the University of Massachusetts, Penn State, Boston University and the University of Buffalo, to name a few. The Lady Saints were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament in Buffalo this year after losses to the University of Rhode Island and Robert Morris University, the eventual champion.

With several key players having graduated, Jaime plans on earning some quality playing time in her freshman season rather than sitting on the cold pine of the bench.

Jamie celebrated the good news last March with a goal midway through the first period of a 5-2 exhibition game win over the Aliso Viejo Eagles. A second goal was disallowed later for a crease violation later in that game.

In the past two seasons against male competition, she has scored 25 goals with 27 assists, spent 32 minutes in the penalty box and scored game-winning goals on seven occasions.

She was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the San Diego Gulls Thanksgiving Tournament and made the Top 25 League Scorers list.

She has been invited to and will attend the West Coast tryouts for Team USA this May and will go there with the attitude of having the opportunity to see and play with the best women in hockey to find out what skills she really needs to develop before taking the next giant step.

She can look back and see that at all the hard work and the bruises from playing against the boys has finally paid off.

She says she will remember her father driving her and her brother Matt to Riverside three nights a week for them to practice with their teams and the weekend games which could be anywhere in Southern California, Las Vegas or Phoenix.

It’s a long season from September to April each year, and the summers were filled with training camps at Providence College and numerous summer leagues preparing for the upcoming seasons.

Besides her hockey career, Jamie has played on the YVHS girls tennis team for the last four seasons. She was named the team’s Most Improved Player and received the Coach’s Award for her play as a junior. As a senior she was named the team’s Most Inspirational Player.

Jamie claims that much of her competitive attitude is owed to tennis coach Cindy Miller.

As busy as she has been, she has been able to maintain a B average in her studies.

Back in 1980 at Lake Placid when Team USA defeated the Russians, ABC’s Al Michaels made one of the most celebrated comments ever in the history of sports television. As the final seconds ticked off the clock with the frenzied chant of “USA, USA” in the background, Michaels said these simple words: “Do you believe in miracles?” Each time Jamie watches that movie, she has a simple response to Michaels’ words: “Yes.”

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005

Trailer, ship container rolls on cars: miracle escape

A TRAILER and a shipping container that rolled on top of two cars in Bendigo yesterday were dangerously overweight, police said today.

A man and a woman travelling in separate cars narrowly escaped serious injury when the container fell on to the cars as it negotiated a corner in the suburb of Golden Square.

Acting Sergeant Troy Hargadon of Bendigo police said initial investigations had revealed the combined load of the trailer and the container to be eight tonnes over the legal limit.

He said police investigations were continuing and no charges had yet been laid.

One of the motorists, Christine Jarvis, who suffered a broken leg in the accident, said today she had been pinned in the car for more than an hour.

As she saw the container heading for her car, Ms Jarvis lay on the seat of her Hyundai Excel, a move which rescue workers say probably saved her life.

“As soon as I seen it tip, I just said, ‘oh god, oh god’,” Ms Jarvis told ABC radio.

“Then I laid down across my seat – it just took the whole top off my car.

“I just hit a bit of my head on the side and pinned my legs under the steering wheel.”

A man in the car behind her scrambled into the back seat of his Commodore and escaped injury.

Police said the incident occurred shortly before 6pm yesterday when a truck and trailer carrying two shipping containers full of scrap metal was turning at an intersection in Golden Square.

As the truck turned, the trailer and its load tipped over on to the two cars which were stopped at a set of lights.

The truck driver was treated for shock, but was otherwise unhurt.

38-ton truck ploughs into church: “amazing escape”

A CLERIC has thanked God after a trucker and his young son had an amazing escape when their lorry crashed into a church.

The Rev Laurie Clow insisted it was a miracle no one was killed in yesterday’s accident.

The 38-ton truck tore across the gardens of four houses and shunted a car before ploughing into All Saints Church in Wimborne, Dorset.

Its 33-year-old driver, of Airdrie, Lanarkshire, and his 12-year-old son, who was asleep in the cab at the time, crawled to safety from the Volvo.

The man, who had not been named, sustained a suspected broken ankle, while the youngster suffered cuts and bruises.

Both were taken to nearby Poole Hospital for treatment.

The Rev Clow believes divine intervention prevented anyone being seriously injured or killed in the early morning smash.

He said: ‘We are deeply shocked at the damage to the church but grateful to God that no one was seriously hurt.

‘It was miraculous that the only building hit was empty.’

The lorry, carrying electrical goods, was heading for Poole in Dorset to catch a ferry to Spain.

Police say it failed to stop at a roundabout and was out of control for about 400 metres.

A spokesman said: ‘We are investigating all possibilities as to why this happened, including that the driver may have fallen asleep.

‘It must have been an act of God that he did not hit one of the neighbouring buildings that were occupied.’

Fire crews also attended to a gas leak caused by the crash.

The lorry was registered to a firm in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire

Train smashes car at high speed: none injured

A CAMPERDOWN man is lucky to be alive after the car he was driving collided with a Melbourne-bound passenger train on Saturday night.

The middle-aged man walked away shaken, but otherwise uninjured, after his car collided with the V-Line train about 6pm at the Wire Road crossing east of Camperdown.

The man was the only occupant of the vehicle which was struck on the rear passenger panel.

Senior Constable Luke Brayshaw of Camperdown police said it was a “miracle” the man was able to walk away from the collision without a scratch. He said the car ended up on the side of the road about 30 metres past the crossing.

He added that none of the 30 passengers on the train, or the drivers, were injured.

“He’s very, very lucky,” Senior Constable Brayshaw said. “The vehicle was travelling north along Wire Road and he simply didn’t see the train.

“I would estimate the train would have been travelling at between 105 and 110 kmh.

“The train driver saw the car about 40 to 60 metres before the collision, but obviously it was too close to stop.

“The train travelled about 400m further down the track where the conductor alerted the passengers that there had been an incident. The passengers generally said they had felt the collision.”

The Wire Road crossing is marked with a signpost. However, it has no lights or boom gates.

The train received minimal damage and was able to continue on its route.

Senior Constable Brayshaw said the road was a 100km zone and neither speed nor alcohol contributed to the accident.

“The accident happened when it was near dark,” he said. “So it doesn’t appear sun glare played a part.

“The car would have only been travelling about 60km an hour. It just appears he hasn’t seen the train coming.”

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005

Teen hit by lightning called ‘a walking miracle’

Jeff Martin says he doesn’t remember much about his brush with lightning or the resulting four-day hospital stay.

All the 15-year-old has are the groggy memories of sirens, lashing out at paramedics, being strapped to a hospital bed because of muscle spasms and feeling a tube in his throat.

“I kinda want to apologize to the paramedics for hitting them,” Martin said.

But Palm Beach County’s most recent lightning strike survivor also has the souvenirs — a baseball cap with a fist-sized hole slashed through it, burn marks on his neck where necklaces hung and constant pain in his neck and back that makes it difficult to sleep.

The last memory he has before being struck is relaxing in the shallow waters of the Jupiter Inlet and noticing a storm rolling in from the east.

“I remember seeing lightning and thinking we should get going,” Martin said.

Twenty minutes later, the boy was lying lifeless in a nearby wooded area.

His skin was purple. He wasn’t breathing. He had no pulse.

A lightning bolt had ripped through his cap and struck him in the back of the head. The lightning also had struck his friend Tom Carroll, 16, of Jupiter.

The two teenagers were walking with friends back to their vehicles near the closed bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on July 24 when they were hit, according to a Jupiter police report. After Carroll blacked out for a few seconds, he awoke and performed CPR on Martin until paramedics arrived.

While Carroll suffered only minor injuries and was released from the hospital the next morning, Martin was put on a respirator for eight hours and remained in the hospital for four days.

During Martin’s stay at the hospital, doctors had to remove scorched pieces of his seashell necklace that had exploded and were lodged in the skin along his neck and back.

Martin also was burned on the areas of his body that touched metal — the silver chain around his neck, the button on the peak of his baseball cap and the drawstring loops on the front of his board shorts.

Doctors found no permanent damage after conducting many different tests on the boy, said Martin’s father, Jeff Martin Sr. Doctors warned, however, that health problems, including seizures, chronic pain and migraines, could develop, he said.

The teenager will visit a primary care physician today as well as a trauma clinic. Two other doctor’s appointments already are set for later this month.

“We have a whole different outlook on lightning now,” said his father, who called the boy “a walking miracle.”

More people are killed by lightning in Florida than in any other state. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 85 people died in Florida from 1995 to 2004, more than twice the number in second-place Texas.

This year, two people have died and 16 have been injured by lightning in Florida.

Martin and Carroll could have been victims of a “side splash,” which occurs when lightning hits an object, such as a tree, and then “jumps” from that object to nearby objects, said Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Cooper, an expert on the health effects of lightning, said many symptoms of a strike aren’t apparent until the victim returns to a normal routine and may begin to experience nagging pains or problems with thought processing.

The teenager said he doesn’t brood on the possibility of future problems, but conceded the incident has changed him in many ways that aren’t physical. He credits Carroll with saving his life and said that he’s “like one of the family” now.

“We were always good friends, but he’s like a brother now,” Martin said.

Martin also said he gets a “weird feeling” now when it rains, but it isn’t going to stop him from spending time outdoors, where he likes to fish, swim and play paintball.

And although Martin’s brush with death didn’t produce any “out of body” or “light at the end of a tunnel” experiences, he has had the same dream over and over again since he left the hospital.

He said he’ll be walking alone on an empty road in the middle of the night. There are no trees and no houses anywhere in sight. In some of the dreams, he trips and falls to the ground, but he always gets back up and continues the journey, he said.

“I don’t see anything but the road, and I just keep walking,” he said.

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