By hosting the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference baseball tournament last week, Johnstown did more than fill a few dates for Point Stadium and bring a few extra tourism dollars into the city.
Having the NCAA Division II conference’s showcase event here might have prevented a tragedy.
Seven members of the Millersville University baseball team helped Shane and Megan Norman, a couple from the West End, care for their young son, who had stopped breathing.
Millersville players Evan King, Zach Stone, Tyler McDonald, Dave Pine, Tyler Orris, Dan Stoltzfus and Tyler Thomas were taking an early-morning stroll from their downtown hotel to a 24-hour convenience store when they saw a frightening scene unfold in front of them. The Normans jumped out of their vehicle with their 21-month-old son, Braydin, and began pleading for help.
“They got out of the car and started yelling,” King, a senior, told our Eric Knopsnyder. “We were all confused and didn’t know what was going on.”
It would have been somewhat understandable if the group of young men, who were walking in the wee hours of the morning in a strange city, had simply decided to mind their own business. But, thankfully, that wasn’t what this group of Marauders was made of.
“We all ran toward them and we just assessed the situation,” said McDonald, a redshirt sophomore. “I asked if anyone was CPR certified because our school offers a class for it. No one said anything, so I was like ‘All right, I used to be CPR certified’ so I kind took over – I wouldn’t say took over, because we all helped, but I knew what I was doing.”
The Normans also had CPR training, but the shock of seeing their young child, who had a temperature of 104.3 according to his mother, go into a seizure, vomit and stop breathing caused them to momentarily forget the finer points of the life-saving technique.
Luckily, McDonald did not. He told the boy’s mother to move the toddler’s tongue so he couldn’t swallow it and had Braydin’s father take off his jacket
and place it under the boy’s neck to help clear his airway.
Those simple steps made a huge difference, as Megan Norman was able to get little Braydin breathing again in no time. Stone, a redshirt junior, held Braydin’s hand throughout the ordeal and could tell when the boy gripped his hand tightly
that he had started to recover.
But the baseball players didn’t stop there. In her panic, Megan Norman had dropped her phone before calling 9-1-1. Pine, a sophomore, quickly dialed the emergency number and had an ambulance dispatched to the scene.
And the other players stood around the family, helping to block the cold rain that was falling and providing a calming influence during what must have been a terrifying few minutes until the ambulance arrived.
When the emergency workers got to the scene, one of the players slipped a yellow bracelet with the words “ ‘Ville baseball” onto Braydin’s tiny wrist.
In addition to it being a tender gesture, it ended up being an important one. In all of the confusion of the night, Megan and Shane Norman weren’t able to properly thank the players. But Braydin’s grandmother, Joyce Bowman, was able to figure out from the bracelet that the young men were from the Millersville team.
Braydin, who recovered quickly from the incident, was able to go see his heroes in action at the Point on Friday. The players posed for a picture with the Norman family and even presented a baseball signed by the team to the toddler.
And while the Marauders were eliminated from the tournament later that night, they accomplished a far more important mission during their short stay in Johnstown.
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