OXFORD, Ind. — Chandler Henry helping his uncle run a Little League baseball practice last month made the difference between life and death for 12-year-old Tristen Clements.
A baseball hit Clements in the chest during practice. When he didn’t get up, Henry and his uncle, Joey Henry, ran to second base to check on him.
“When we got there, he was just sucking in air. He wasn’t breathing,” Chandler Henry said. “My uncle was trying to wake him up.”
“I didn’t know what to do. I was a frantic mess,” Joey Henry said. “He stopped breathing. We noticed his last breath.”
“The top of his bottom lip started turning blue,” Chandler Henry said.
While the team and Joey Henry panicked, Chandler Henry kept his wits about him.
It wasn’t just that Clements wasn’t breathing. His heart had stopped, Clement’s mother, Heather Royer, said.
Chandler Henry directed his uncle to give Clements two artificial breaths while Henry started chest compressions.
“I gave him three rounds of CPR,” Henry said.
Clements sputtered back to life, breathing on his own. He rolled on his side and vomited, Henry said, and that was about the time the ambulance got there to take over.
Now, more than three weeks later, Clements remembers being hit in the chest with the ball, but it didn’t hurt. His memories of the minutes after that, of course, fade.
“I remember I went down for air, and then it just went black,” Clements said.
After the ambulance arrived, Joey Henry called Royer to tell her about her son’s brush with death.
She rushed to the Lafayette hospital to await the ambulance. It was 45 minutes of anxiety before Clements arrived. Then he was airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
The next day, a doctor explained what had happened.
“The ball hit him right at the spot where the heart was between beats,” Royer said. “It stopped his heart.
“It’s very rare, but when it does happen, it’s usually to athletes.”
Clements’ love of the game returned the next day while still at the hospital.
“He’s like, ‘I’m fine. I’m fine,'” Royer said.
Doctors said he could go back after a few days of rest. Royer, however, ordered a week away from the diamond.
Clements is back playing baseball, and tournament time is just a few games away.
Looking back on that May 23 practice, Royer believes her son’s survival is nothing short of a miracle.
Chandler Henry had never helped his uncle with the baseball team until that afternoon. He didn’t even know the boys on the team, other than his cousin, Joseph Henry — Joey’s son, who happened to be the person who threw the ball that struck Clements.
“God put him there for a reason,” Royer said.
Chandler spent his final year at Benton Central taking an emergency medical service class. For three hours each school day, Chandler studied at St. Elizabeth School of Nursing.
“Chandler luckily was there,” Royer said, “and was trained and certified in CPR from Benton Central. It’s a miracle.”
“It was just kind of a crazy thing that happened,” Chandler Henry said of the attention he’s received. “I was just trying to do the right thing.”
As Chandler Henry adjusts to his hero status, Jeremie Boehle, fire chief of Oxford Fire Department, plans to honor Chandler Henry with a life-saving award.
Source: (Lafayette) Journal & Courier, http://on.jconline.com/2rACCQr
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by the (Lafayette) Journal & Courier.