Their 10-year-old son could have died on a school track that day, but a Brownsburg couple have a trio of nurses to thank for coming out of the stands to do CPR.
When Jen Murray saw her 10-year-old son go down as he rounded a turn on the school track, she first thought he was being overly dramatic after running a mile. When Brooks Murray didn’t move, his mom tamped down the fear that began to swell inside her and turned to calm one of her other sons who was sitting with her.
“I’m thinking, ‘Don’t be a helicopter mom; he’ll be fine.’ When he didn’t get back up, that’s when I headed out of the bleachers.”
Before she could get to Brooks, strangers were at his side.
Jennifer York, a respiratory therapist in the NICU at Riley Hospital for Children, was cheering for her daughter, who was competing in the same Brownsburg track event. She saw the boy collapse in front of her, and when he didn’t get up, she hustled through a nearby gate onto the track.
She knew immediately that it was bad. “He had no heart rate. I said, ‘call 911’ and started CPR.”
Within seconds, a friend was by her side, performing rescue breaths on the boy. Annie Newman worked as an OB nurse at St. Vincent Hospital. Together they worked to keep Brooks alive until help could arrive. Another nurse, Chris Thompson of IU Health, soon arrived on the scene to alternate with York giving chest compressions.
“A couple times (Brooks) acted like he was coming to and we would turn him to his side, then he would go limp again,” York said. “We just wanted the paramedics to get there.”
Brad Murray was at a church meeting a few minutes up the road when his cell phone rang once, then again. Cell service is spotty in the basement of the church, so Murray walked upstairs to take the call from his wife. All he could hear was “one and two and three and four …” The call dropped.
“I immediately thought it sounded like CPR, so it scared me a little bit, but it didn’t come to my mind that one of my healthy 10-year-olds was having a problem,” Murray said.
Jen Murray called again, telling her husband that their son was down. “You need to get here,” she said.
Brad Murray handed off his toddler son to someone in the church – “I don’t even know who it was, but I trusted everyone there” – and he and another son raced out of the building to a car driven by a church elder. “As we drove, I had Jen on speaker and we could hear the CPR.”
It was maybe a six-minute drive to the school track. In those excruciating minutes, with his wife on speaker phone and Brooks’ identical twin Clark in the back seat, Brad Murray prayed out loud.
“The first thing that came to mind was just to give Brooks to the Lord,” he said. “We’re Christian, and we believe that our kids are gifts from God to start with. I thought, God’s given him to us for 10 years and I don’t want to give him up, but it’s not up to me. I thanked God for Brooks’ life and said, ‘But Lord, we desperately would like to have him back.’ ”
Brooks Murray is a quadruplet, born at 32 weeks. He weighed 3 pounds, but he was a St. Vincent Hospital NICU champ, his mom says. He and his brother Isaac were the first to go home — after three weeks in the hospital. The other boys, Henry and Clark, followed their brothers home in the next two weeks. The couple also have a 2-year-old son, Hudson.
“We had these NICU babies and we thought, ‘Hey, we made it out of the NICU and everybody’s good. It’s smooth sailing now,” Jen Murray said. “This was shock for everybody.”
As the three medical professionals continued CPR, Brooks’ mom stood to the side, frantic but confident in the lifesaving care her son was receiving. She remembers looking up into the stands and seeing a woman with her hands raised, praying for her son.
“We didn’t know anyone there, and these complete strangers came out of the stands to help Brooks. I remember at the time not knowing who these people were but thinking they knew what they were doing,” she said.
“My thought the whole time was I didn’t want to lose him by myself. I wanted Brad to be there. I just wanted him to get there.”
Her husband arrived just as EMTs were loading Brooks into the ambulance. By then, Brooks was breathing on his own.
Jennifer York estimates she did CPR with Newman and Thompson’s help for seven minutes. Brooks spent eight days at St. Vincent after the incident, but in that time, doctors were stumped about what caused his heart to stop.
He later was diagnosed with CPVT (catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia), a condition characterized by an abnormal heart rhythm. He now wears an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small electronic device connected to his heart that continuously monitors and helps control arrhythmia.
May 3, 2017 was a rainy, cold, miserable night, Brad and Jen Murray say today. But it also was an amazing night. A night when they almost lost their son before a group of strangers came together to save him.
After the chaos calmed and their son was safe, Jen remembered how she kept seeing an RN badge waving back and forth as Chris Thompson did compressions on her son. At the time, Thompson was a cardiac nurse for IU Health; he now works in Clinical Solutions. She didn’t know if she would ever see him or the other two lifesavers again, but with help from friends and social media, the group reconnected soon after the frightening incident.
York still gets emotional when she talks about that day. Like the Murrays, she lives in Brownsburg with her family, but it took an emergency to bring them together.
“I met them when he got out of the hospital. They came to our house, brought a flower, and the kids all signed a card. It was awesome, but heart-wrenching,” she said. “It was hard not knowing how he was at first, so it was nice to have them think about us and want to thank us. Not that I needed thanks, I just needed to know that he was OK.”
The Murrays consider York, Thompson and Newman family now. They celebrated the one-year anniversary of Brooks’ rescue with them at a yogurt shop in Brownsburg.
“We wanted to take that day and make it good and celebrate Brooks’ life,” Jen Murray said. “We just keep thanking them. What do you do for people who saved your kid’s life?”
— By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist