This past weekend, near tragedy struck the Hatlestad family when their fourteen-year-old daughter went into cardiac arrest during her little sister’s volleyball game. Helena is a normal young teen who plays volleyball. She is a great athlete with no medical history. Why this happened is still unknown.
Helena’s mother Carminita describes the day like any other, “Saturday, April 10th we woke up early like every Saturday to spend our day at the city gym.”
Their day included several sporting events for Helena, her younger sister, and their cousin. The family enjoyed some quality time together between games, talking, playing, and having lunch. Helena even played her 4:50 game without issue. Carminita told me “She played her game at 4:50 and, like every game, she played like it’s being televised.” Helena seemed to be having a completely ordinary day and then everything changed.
Carminita described the moment it happened. “She said she had a headache, so she took some Tylenol. Then we went back into the gym. Helena sat down by my feet and was visiting with her friend. While we hung out she looked at me and said she was hungry. Then within a minute was laid over my legs. I thought she was being dramatic about starving to death. But when I nudged her to get up there was no movement. My friends thought she had hit her head and passed out. She was blue and was gasping for air like a fish out of water.” It was at this moment she discovered her daughter no longer had a pulse.
Carminita didn’t know what to do. She immediately prayed for her daughter, and good Samaritans Kathy Boswell and Regina Smith answered her prayers. They immediately began effective CPR to revive the young girl. Clyde Richardson began moving the crowd away from the area and talking to Helena to comfort her even while unconscious. Mineral Wells EMT arrived within minutes. There was no A.E.D on-site so EMT Sam Sterum shocked her in the ambulance to get her heart beating again, intubated her, and waited for Careflight to arrive for the quick trip to Cook’s Children’s Hospital.
Kathy Boswell is just happy she was in the right place at the right time to help. “I was blessed to be there and be able to assist her. I wasn’t alone though. This is why there was a good outcome. And by the grace of God that young lady will be back on the volleyball court again. It is so important that every person learn CPR because you never know when you will need that skill.”
Helena stayed in a medically induced coma for over twelve hours for monitoring. The doctors ran all the tests they could think of and all tests have come back normal. This event is baffling to them. Helena is now awake with no brain damage. She has no recollection of the event. She even has some disbelief it even happened. Although she did tell her mother she saw Jesus and her grandfather that recently passed away.
Right now the Hatlestad family is just very happy their daughter is alive and healthy. It is all thanks to the citizens who were willing to help instantly.
Carminita says, “My child collapsed and was dead. If it wouldn’t have been for CPR and the embrace of people to think with no hesitation to save her; and put air in her lungs, she wouldn’t be here today. In an instant life can dramatically change, and the people you love can be gone. So let her story be a reason you hold someone tighter today. Or tell them you love them or jump to help someone like it’s your own family; when you see someone in need.”
Helena is just excited and ready to be going home soon. She is being sent home with a defibrillator to ensure safety in the future, and she will be taking some time off from playing sports. Helena is ready to get back to normal life. Her family is planning a welcome home celebration with their church. Helena says, “If you are not close to god or know him. Get to know him; don’t wait.” She wants all to have access to this verse Psalm 31:24. “Be strong, and take heart. All you who hope in the Lord.”
Writer | I graduated from Weatherford College with an Associates in Art, focusing on history, creative writings, sociology, and humanities. Experience in child development, client care, and runs local Spoken Word Poetry group for young teens.