momlogic's Vivian: This unbelievable tragedy had me in tears ... not just because it occurred in my neighborhood, but because it might have been prevented.
Eleven-year-old Briana Ojeda was playing in a Brooklyn park last Friday when she suffered a severe asthma attack. Her mom, Carmen, called 911, but decided to rush her daughter to the hospital herself, as it was less than a mile away. To avoid traffic, Carmen Ojeda turned the wrong way down a one-way street and -- after sideswiping a parked car -- found herself boxed in by a police officer. He detained her, and sadly, she didn't make it to the hospital in time.
According to NY1, Ojeda pleaded with the officer for help. "He smirked at me when I asked him for help," Ojeda said. "It wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm sorry I can't help you'; it was like, 'I don't know CPR' -- like a jerk, like a jerk. He shouldn't have a badge and a gun, because who's he going to protect? He's supposed to protect me and help me, right? So why didn't he help me?"
Several witnesses say they heard the desperate mom's pleas for help, and one bystander attempted CPR before they finally got the girl to the emergency room. But it was too late -- the young girl died. The cop who allegedly refused to help was finally identified as NYPD Officer Alfonso Mendez. He has since been suspended without pay and faces departmental charges.
So SAD!! But what should you do to help if you witness someone having a severe asthma attack like this? Dr. Vania Kasper, a pediatrician from the State University of New York's Downstate Medical Center, says to call 911 PRONTO, then proceed on an urgent search for asthma meds. "For parents of kids who have asthma, it's super important to keep them on their controller medication and never miss a dose," says Kasper. "If the kid's a known asthmatic and something like this happens outside of the home, hopefully they have their medication with them. But if they don't have it, or it's not working for some reason, asthma is such a common disease that you can ask if anyone around you has albuterol (an asthma medication that clears blocked airways). In the meantime, try and keep the child calm, because anxiety can make an asthma attack worse. But ultimately, you really do need to get the child to the hospital immediately."
And hopefully, you'll avoid encountering officers such as Mendez along the way.