On Thursday, July 6, at about 8:30 p.m., our normally quiet College Grove cul-de-sac was undone by a tragic occurrence.
The desperate cries for help that broke through the darkness on Boren Street, three houses down from my own, brought all neighbors out to see what was happening and if we could be of help. Most neighbors, emerging outside, expected some sort of domestic dispute. Instead we saw a father kneeling on his front lawn, wailing in agony, powerless and panicked, beside his prone, unconscious son, Jordan, 5.
Our neighbor Robert had begun administering CPR while another neighbor dialed 911. The rest of us stood wringing our hands in a helpless half circle, watching and hoping desperately for the boy to take continued breaths and open his eyes. I felt his wrist...warm, but no pulse. My son is three and a half, and the similarity of this small body, vital moments before, brought tears to my eyes.
Police arrived in about 5 minutes and took over trying to revive him. A fire engine came 10 minutes after that. The ambulance got lost and arrived about 25 minutes later. Jordan had choked on a large chunk of strawberry in his ice cream. It had lodged in his windpipe. They took him away on a gurney, still pressing air into his lungs.
I found out the next day, from a relative I happened to see walking toward their house, that Jordan had passed away. They were planning his fifth birthday. He was supposed to go to Soak City today, July 10, she told me.
I wrote District 7 councilmember Marti Emerald to express my rage and confusion about the third-world inefficiency of the ambulance. We have taken flowers to the house. The family has set up a shrine to Jordan, his smiling face in a picture lit by candlelight.
All of us who witnessed Jordan's death have been profoundly impacted. I did not know him, his family, or most of my neighbors prior to this incident. I think we have all remembered the interconnectedness of our humanity and let down our walls to reach out.
I do not know whether or not the ambulance arriving immediately could have saved Jordan. I only know that he should be here to scooter down the street with the other kids on these long summer nights. And I know that however bright the days are, on our street there are unseen shadows that will shroud our hearts in grief for a long, long time.