Summer Hathaway was panicked.
Standing on the shoulder of Kittitas Highway holding her unconscious baby in one arm, she tossed things out of her van with the other in a desperate bid to attract attention.
Cars flew by, drivers seemingly unfazed by the scene unfolding on the side of the road. Then a stranger pulled over and uttered words Hathaway will never forget: “What can I do?”
The stranger was Kittitas Valley Healthcare’s Sarah Martin, patient service representative by occupation, Good Samaritan by inclination.
It happened late on the afternoon of March 3.
Hathaway, who lives in Kittitas, was driving her then 15-month-old son Alaric to the emergency room at KVH Hospital. That day Alaric had come down with a rash and fever, the same symptoms he’d had before suffering a seizure that shut down his airway during a visit to California six months earlier. Hathaway’s 19-year-old son, Triston McCowin, who has Down Syndrome, was riding in the back with Alaric when he told their mother Alaric was “sleeping.”
“I heard the baby gasping for breath,” Hathaway recalls. “I pulled over. I called 911.”
“As I drove by I saw Summer just throw the stroller out,” she recalls. “She was moving really fast. I just knew something was wrong. It was a gut feeling. My mom has always told us, since we were little, trust your gut – it’s usually right.
“I knew there was no way I could drive by and keep going and be OK with it. It would have haunted me if I could have helped and didn’t.”
So Martin turned around at the No. 6 Road and came back around. Neither a nurse nor a doctor, Martin didn’t know what she could do. So she did what for her comes naturally: She opened her arms and her heart.
Standing on the side of that road as vehicles rushed by, she held Alaric and talked to him.
When the paramedics arrived to transport Alaric to KVH Hospital, she offered to drive Hathaway’s van, an offer a grateful Hathaway declined. “Once I handed him off to the paramedics I was calmer,” says Hathaway, who continued on to the hospital with Triston.
Calm and determined to do whatever was needed when she stopped, emotion overwhelmed her when she went back to her car. “I just broke down in tears. I just wanted to hug my boys,” says Martin, the mother of two young sons.
As for Alaric, he was treated in the KVH Emergency Department, then airlifted a couple of hours later to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.
“The KVH emergency department was amazing,” Hathaway says. “The staff communicated with us and really showed they cared. They were taking care of us as well as Alaric.”
Since that day Alaric, whose parents call him the “miracle baby” they were told they would never have, has been in and out of Children’s.
Diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which the brain tissue extends into the spinal column, he may be headed for surgery. He’s also been diagnosed with epilepsy after another seizure in early April while in Seattle.
In the midst of dealing with the challenges Alaric faces, Hathaway says she will never forget Martin’s kindness. “I had a half-naked, unconscious baby in my arms and everybody was just going by,” she says, her voice emotional. “I think I would have been out of my mind if Sarah hadn’t stopped.”