When a baby stops breathing, Florida motorists pitch in to help

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Sebastian, 5 mo., was in critical condition Friday. But he is expected to be fine. Photo Credit: Jackson Health System/Twitter

Sebastian, 5 mo., was in critical condition Friday. But he is expected to be fine.
Photo Credit: Jackson Health System/Twitter

(CNN) — Pamela Rauseo was stuck in traffic on a Miami highway Thursday when her 5-month-old nephew, strapped into his car seat behind her, stopped screaming — and she knew something was very wrong.

Pamela Rauseo, her 5-month old nephew stopped breathing on a Miami highway Friday, February 21, 2014. Photo Credit: CNN

Pamela Rauseo talks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper after her 5-month old nephew stopped breathing on a Miami highway Friday, February 21, 2014.
Photo Credit: CNN

“That was a red flag for me, because the car was at a standstill and he’d had a little bit of a cold and I knew that he was congested, so I got really worried,” Rauseo told CNN on Friday about her nephew, Sebastian de la Cruz.

It turns out that she had plenty of cause for worry. “I pulled over on the left, and I jumped to the back to check up on him, and he was out, he was sleeping, and I touched him to stimulate him. I got no response, so I took him out of his car seat and he was completely limp and turning purple. I tried to call 911, but I was just so nervous my hands wouldn’t function.”

But others did. Rauseo screamed for help, and fellow motorists on the stretch of concrete congested with vehicles responded.

Lucila Godoy was among the first.

“I was driving in the middle lane, she was in the fast lane, and all of a sudden I see her and she’s screaming and she’s holding the baby and she’s putting it up and down,” she told CNN. “I just stopped the car and jumped out of the car, and I asked her what was going on and we started working as a team.”

The team grew. With the help of a police officer who showed up moments later, the women began performing CPR on Sebastian, who resumed breathing on his own.

Miami Herald Photographer Al Diaz was among those stuck in traffic. “An SUV stops in front of me, and I didn’t think anything of it,” he told CNN affiliate WSVN. “But I started hearing screaming, and I couldn’t tell where the screams come from, and I looked at my phone, and I looked at my radio and I look up again, and a woman pops out of a car holding the baby, screaming, ‘Help me! Help me! My baby’s not breathing.’ ”

He went looking for help and found it coming from all sides, then snapped into his mode as a photographer and began documenting what he saw. “That moment now is frozen in my mind,” he said. “That’s just the way I see.”

But the ordeal was not over. Sebastian stopped breathing again, and the good Samaritans, now aided by two Miami-Dade hazardous materials team members, resumed CPR.

This time, he continued breathing long enough for an ambulance to take him to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was in critical condition Friday but was expected to survive, his aunt said.

By Tom Watkins

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