MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The aunt of the baby boy who stopped breathing on the Dolphin Expressway on Thursday afternoon explained a similar scare with her own son seven years ago prompted her to get the CPR training that would ultimately save her nephew’s life.
“I couldn’t fail. I needed to get this baby well,” Pamela Rauseo said at a press conference Friday at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where here nephew Sebastian de la Cruz continues to recover.
“The only thought that’s through me right now is just relief that my nephew is well and healthy,” Rauseo said.
Things looked grim for the 5-month-old Thursday as Rauseo drove westbound on SR 836 near Red Road.
She said Sebastian often cries when the car is stopped.
His silence in the gridlock surprised her, so she decided to check on him.
Rauseo said the boy was turning blue. He was unconscious and had stopped breathing.
“I could easily have thought to myself, the baby’s sleeping. He calmed down on his own and he’s sleeping. But thank God I didn’t,” Rauseo explained.
She frantically jumped out the car and started screaming for help.
Miami Herald Photojournalist Al Diaz happened to be in the car behind her.
“A woman pops out of the car and starts screaming, ‘My baby can’t breathe, my baby can’t breathe. Call 911!’ So I got out of the car and ran to help,” Diaz told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Diaz immediately went looking for help, flagging down a Sweetwater Police Officer and two Miami-Dade Firefighters.
Meanwhile, Lucila Godoy noticed the commotion and left her own child in the car to assist in the rescue.
“I just saw this lady screaming, she had a baby. I just did what anybody else would have done,” Godoy said.
They got the baby breathing, and that’s when Diaz said he went to get his camera.
When he returned, the were once again trying to revive the child.
He snapped the powerful images of Rauseo and the Good Samaritans in action.
Godoy helped do chest compressions as Rauseo kept trying to breathe life back into the boy.
Sweetwater Ofc. Amauris Bastidas assisted as well.
“Save someone’s life. It’s my duty. It’s my duty to act,” Bastidas told Pastrana.
Also in the traffic jam, were Capt. Anthony Trim and Lt. Alvaro Tonanez of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
They rushed over to see what they could do.
“The outpouring of help sort of renews your faith in your fellow man,” Capt. Trim said.
On Friday, Rauseo acknowledged the strangers who stood by her side in her moment of panic.
“I would like to thank them. I was a really hot mess and if it hadn’t been for them, I don’t know that I would have had the presence of mind to do what needed to be done,” she said.
Doctors said Rauseo knew exactly what she was doing, thanks to CPR training she received 7 years ago.
It was back then that Rauseo’s second son stopped breathing at her house.
The child, one of her three sons, was just three months old at the time.
He started breathing again on his own, but the scare was a wake-up call for Rauseo and her husband Eddie.
They were both certified in CPR.
“I hope the message gets out that people need to get trained before that risk happens in their own family,” said Dr. Judy Schaechter, Interim Chief of Pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Rauseo doesn’t know if she followed her training to the letter Thursday, but she’s glad what she did remember worked. She plans on getting re-certified soon.
“Let’s all be proactive and avoid something that can be tragic with such a simple solution,” she said.
Sebastian de la Cruz remains at the UM/Holtz Pedatric Critical Care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Juan Solano said he will stay under close medical observation for a while. It’s not clear when he will be able to go home.
Dr. Solano said Sebastian suffered a respiratory infection recently, but they’re still trying to determine exactly what caused him to stop breathing in the first place.
Also, you can prepare yourself to act in an emergency by viewing the Hands-Only® CPR instructional video.