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11-Year-Old Dies from Asthma Attack

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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.

Briana Ojeda

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.

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67 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tess September 1, 2010, 6:29 PM

It is sad a child died.However, CPR is to be used on people who suffered a stroke, administering CPR probably delayed their trip to the hospital even more. But, if you were an officer and saw an erradic driver going down a one-way the wrong-way, crashing into parked cars, do you let this car kill pedestrians, destroy more property? People have been killed by drivers going the wrong way!

In addition, they weren’t boxed in, it just happens traffic was trying to go down that street the right way.

The officer isn’t scott free, (although anyone with an asthmatic child knows to calm them down, not crash into everything and have a stranger administer unnecessary CPR when you were right by the hospital) after the officer realized this mother DID have a child in desperate need, he should have gotten them into his vehicle, go lights and sirens and get them to the hospital. He should have helped calm the mother down, CPR may not be his job, but helping people (calming) people when they are distressed is his job.He also should have gone on his radio for medical assistance.

Wow! September 1, 2010, 9:19 PM

@Tess You must be from another planet! CPR is not only for stroke victims. Are you serious? First of all, how would you be able to diagnose someone having a stroke in order to make that determination? Moving right along because clearly you do not have asthma or a child that has it. As a parent of a child with asthma and a former asthmatic, I know how to handle my child during these traumatic episodes because of skills/techniques I’ve acquired throughout my years of suffering. Nevertheless, it is still the scariest thing ever to watch your child grasping for air, and it can induce a state of panic. Try to be less judgemental and educate yourself about the illness. It would certainly make you appear less IGNORANT!

Lee September 2, 2010, 12:02 PM

@wow I agree completely and this is from someone neither with kids nor asthema. I have lost it when my dog is unable to get a deep breath, and hes just a dog. I could not imagine when watching a friend or loved one.

@Tess Your right about what he should have done. He should have also resigned. It clearly sounds like he let ego get in the way and now someone has lost their life. Is he not to pay dearly for that? His smugness has cost a dear 11 year old from experiencing all life has to offer, and destroyed families in the process.

rich September 2, 2010, 4:28 PM

From what I understand the kid passed out awhile ago meaning the attack was way beyond any cpr. The mother let her kid die in 90 degree weather and was looking for someone to place blame. He needed a shot not cpr. Also if your going down a one way and hitting cars the cop has to stop you and figure out the situation. I’m not saying he is 100 percent innocent but she did a lot of messed up things, this kid was already dead and she is to blame.

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