Saturday, May 31, 2008

05-31-09 -- Boy who collapsed on Little League baseball field returns to the team


Justin McAfee, the 14-year-old boy who collapsed on a Little League baseball field May 12, Wednesday attended his first game since that event.

McAfee had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator placed inside his chest last week by specialists at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. The device, similar to a pacemaker, monitors McAfee's heart and delivers a shock when it detects an abnormal rhythm.

"It's been a roller coaster," said his father, Ken McAfee, talking about the family's emotions during the past few weeks.

He said doctors still are not certain why his son's heart failed, but determined it was a condition he's had since birth.

Justin McAfee was rounding second base during Little League practice when he suddenly collapsed.

Bystanders quickly rushed to his aid, and 14-year-old Jessica Moncrieff performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

"He's back to 99 percent Justin," Ken McAfee said. "He's got some stitches in his shoulder so he's still a little sore, and he can't swing a bat yet."

McAfee said his son didn't play Wednesday, and probably wouldn't for the rest of the season.

He said doctors were not sure yet if he would be able to play baseball next season.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Friday, May 16, 2008

05-16-08 -- Cole Valley students and boy's dad thank Jessica Moncrieff for quick action

Katherine Jones/Idaho Statesman
"Of course, I have a new daughter," says Ken McAfee, left. He's referring to Jessica Moncrieff, 14, center, who performed CPR on his son, Justin, also 14, and is credited with saving his life. The freshman class of Cole Valley Christian School, where Justin attends, honored Jessica at a rousing school assembly.


Several hundred Cole Valley Christian High School students gave a rousing welcome to a 14-year-old hero Thursday.

Members of the freshman class ushered Jessica Moncrieff of Meridian before the deafening cheers of students gathered in the school's gymnasium to honor her for saving the life of Cole Valley student Justin McAfee, 14.

McAfee's heart stopped, and he collapsed Friday while running bases at Little League practice.

Moncrieff, an eighth-grader at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Meridian, was practicing soccer at an adjacent field. She saw the boy lying in the dirt at second base and rushed over to administer CPR.

"When adults didn't know what to do, this young lady stepped in and took action," Brad Carr, Cole Valley superintendent told the students.

With the same confidence displayed on the baseball diamond that day, Moncrieff, wearing a broad smile, strode into the gymnasium as the student body of Cole Valley High stood and gave a thunderous applause for saving one of their own.

Shouts of, "Thank you Jessica," and "You're awesome," rose above the roar coming from the gym's risers.

"You guys are awesome," said Ken McAfee, Justin's father.

Overwhelmed by emotion and speaking through a brief outbreak of tears, he said, "(Justin is) 97 percent of the Justin you enjoy and know he is.

"The other 3 percent missing is being able to get outside and be back with you guys."

Justin McAfee, still a patient at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center, will travel to Salt Lake City on Sunday to prepare for a heart procedure at Primary Children's Hospital on Monday.

Specialists there plan to insert a pacemaker-like device into his chest to keep his heart working normally, according to his father, Ken McAfee.

On Wednesday, school officials arranged to have Justin read the morning announcements from his hospital bed, where he is in intensive care. He is listed in stable but guarded condition, according to a hospital spokesman.

So on Thursday the freshman class at Cole Valley presented Moncrieff with a signed plaque from the school as a gesture of thanks for her willingness to jump in and use her training to save McAfee.

"Of course, I have a new daughter," Ken McAfee said before once again being drowned out by the applause of Justin's friends and classmates. "Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support."

Moncrieff said her reception at the school overwhelmed her.

"I didn't realize how much it mattered to them until today," she said.

She said she visited Justin in the hospital.

"He was sleeping when I was there," she said. "Then when I was leaving he asked his mom who that was and she told him. Then he said, 'Thank you.' "

Ken McAfee said Wednesday that he and his wife, Lysa, are not sure why Justin's heart stopped, but they had talked to a doctor in February when their son had a rapid heart rate.

At that time they had planned to make a trip to Salt Lake City in June for more study.

McAfee said his son should be back to doing anything he wants to do within eight weeks after his heart procedure.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11, 2008 -- Teen Takes Charge, Saves Life at Idaho Little League Practice

David Kennard and Gregory Hahn
The Idaho Statesman (Boise)

May 9--None of the adults at the Meridian Little League practice knew what to do Wednesday night when a 13-year-old boy collapsed rounding second base.

But 14-year-old Jessica Moncrieff did.

From the adjacent field, where she was scrimmaging with her club soccer team, Moncrieff could see people clapping their hands to wake the boy up. Some were screaming. But no one started CPR -- not until Moncrieff ran over and took charge.

And paramedics say Moncrieff may have made the difference in the young boy's life.

His parents have asked that the boy not be named. Although Thursday he was in critical condition at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center, but emergency crews responding to the 911 call said the boy is lucky to be alive.

"It looks like they did an incredible job with bystander CPR," Mike Nugent, paramedic supervisor with Ada County, said Wednesday night. "People did all the right things. There are hopeful signs."

About 70 kids from Cole Valley Christian School filled the hospital's waiting area when they heard about their classmate.

The private school held a chapel service Thursday morning to give students the chance to offer prayers on the boy's behalf.

The school also made teachers and counselors available to talk with friends of the boy.

"He's very close to a lot of people here at school," said Kassie Jones, director of development at Cole Valley Christian.

Moncrieff learned how to react to emergencies at a Red Cross class for babysitters and had recently received a refresher course in her eighth-grade health class at Lewis and Clark Middle School. She was watching the boy on the ground and thinking she could help when her 17-year-old brother, Lucas, yelled at her and spurred her to action.

"He said 'Jessica, you know CPR,'" she said.

She gave some orders to the parents and coaches standing around, hesitated for a second before doing mouth to mouth on a real person for the first time, and then launched into the breaths and chest compressions she had trained to do.

"Once she saw what was going on she just jumped right in," said her father, Jim Moncrieff, who helps coach the soccer team.

"She took charge and started telling people what to do. She jumped in so fast I got on her a little because I wanted to make sure she knew what she was doing."

She agreed it was a little strange to have stepped up the way she did.

"I'm 14," she said. "People don't think I know anything."

Moncrieff performed CPR for 10 to 15 minutes, she estimated, continuing even after the paramedics came, as they prepared to bring the boy back to life.

She knew he wasn't breathing on his own, and she knew what that meant.

When they finally told her she could stop, the enormity of what had happened finally hit her.

"I turned away and I walked away slowly," she said. "I could feel the tears coming."

She cried for two hours, she said.

"Last night I couldn't sleep," she said. "I couldn't stop thinking about him, thinking 'I just hope he's OK.'"

It is not clear why the boy collapsed, but according to Jeff Dustin, Mountain View Little League president, the boy had been cleared by his family doctor to play.

Little League requires health waivers from all its players.

The hospital officials would not say why they think the boy's heart failed, but a spokesman said an early report from the school that the boy was in a coma was inaccurate.

"He is in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in critical condition," said Ken Dey, spokesman for St. Luke's.

"I've been told that his condition is not likely to change in the next day or two, but to say he is in a coma is not exactly accurate."

David Kennard: 377-6436

Saturday, May 10, 2008

05-10-08 -- NTSB report offers little on McCall crash that killed three

BY DAVID KENNARD - dkennard@idahostatesman.comFew details emerged Friday in a preliminary NTSB report about the May 2 collision of two planes in McCall, but the father of one of those pilots recalls having "eerie feelings" as he watched them approach the airport.

"But I didn't realize they were landing on the same runway," said Craig Mooney, father of pilot Justin Mooney, who survived the crash.

After the crash, Justin Mooney, 30, of Post Falls pulled Tyler Pickering, 3, of Caldwell, from the burning wreckage of the other plane.

Pickering's grandfather, Bill Keating, 52, of McCall, the pilot of the second plane, and two brothers, Dylan James Pickering, and Williams Christopher Pickering, 6, died in the crash. Tyler Pickering is recovering in a Salt Lake City hospital.

Mooney's passenger, Mark Fuller, 27, of Hayden escaped with minor injuries.

The NTSB report echoed previously released information about the crash at McCall Municipal Airport: about 7:50 p.m., two Cessnas collided in-flight over the approach end of runway 34 at McCall Municipal Airport. Both airplanes were destroyed in the collision, uncontrolled descent, and postcrash fire, the report said.

Craig Mooney, who was in McCall that day for business conference, was sitting outside the airport's aviation office waiting for his son to fly in and pick him up.

Justin Mooney, a commercial pilot and flight instructor, had planned for weeks to give his father his first flying lesson.

"It was the perfect weekend for this," Craig Mooney said Friday.

But the next few minutes turned their perfectly planned weekend tragic.

"I watched him fly over the airport then begin his approach pattern," Craig said. "I never took my eyes off of him all the way in."

He said as he watched his son circle around for the final approach, he noticed another plane switch on its landing lights as it made a direct approach from the southwest.

"He was about twice as high in the sky as Justin," Craig Mooney said. "And he was making a real steep descent."

"I had an eery feeling when I saw them come down," Craig Mooney said.

But that's when he lost sight of the planes behind a snowbank. Craig Mooney said he got up from his chair to wait for his son to taxi in.

"I turned to look back, and I saw smoke," Craig Mooney said. "And about two minutes later, I saw an explosion and saw a big cloud of smoke.

"I knew at this point something wasn't right."

Justin Mooney made a statement to the NTSB, saying he transmitted his position at least three times.

Keating was an experienced pilot who had been flying for more than 10 years and owned his own plane. He was returning from Caldwell, where he had picked up his three grandchildren.

The report did not reveal why the two pilots couldn't see each other. It also doesn't place blame on either pilot.

In fact, an introduction to the report says, "This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors."

A final NTSB report could take several months and will be released.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 1, 2008 -- Dog attacks on Star sheep reflect growing problem

By David Kennard, Idaho Statesman

STAR, Idaho — The killing of three lambs Wednesday by loose dogs roaming Star is one example of a growing problem in semi-rural areas, the head of the Idaho Humane Society said.

Animal control officers captured two of the dogs, but a third is still on the loose.

"It's a big problem in the urban interface areas," said Jeff Rosenthal, humane society director. "People move out to the semi-rural areas and think they can let their dogs run loose."

He said officials do not know who own the dogs but hoped somebody will come forward to claim the animals, which also badly wounded a fourth lamb.

Miles Miller of Star called police about 1:50 a.m. when he heard the dogs attacking the animals.

"I have a great Pyrenees," Miller said. "She woke me up about two in the morning. So I got up and checked on the sheep. I had a flashlight and saw three dogs standing over one of the lambs."

Miller has three ewes and each had two lambs born about three weeks ago, he said.

When animal control officers arrived, they captured an Australian Shepherd and a German Shepherd.

Star police Chief Ken Ramage said he thought some goats also were killed Wednesday morning, but he did not have details on that attack.

Rosenthal said that if identified, the owners of the dogs likely will be cited for having an animal running at large, owning a dog without a license, and owning a dog that attacked livestock. He also said the owner could be charged with owning a dangerous dog under Star's city ordinance.

If that were the case, the owner would have to go through a permitting process before he or she could own the dogs. That would include carrying liability insurance, sterilizing the dogs and putting microchips in them.

Rosenthal said he wasn't surprised to learn the breeds of the dogs involved Wednesday.

"It's common to see the herding breeds attack livestock," he said. "It's their instinct to hunt. I mean, people over the years have tried to breed that out, but even training a herding dog not to attack sheep goes against their nature."

David Kennard: 377-6436