Location: Macon, Georgia
Date: April 7, 1991
On April 7, 1991, the Mosely family was enjoying a quiet, relaxing Sunday at their home outside Macon, Georgia. Ken watched television with a friend while Leslie washed the car outside and kept an eye on three-year-old Daniel and sixteen-month-old Toni. Daniel sat in a swing while Toni walked around the yard, sipping juice, and then she tripped.
Leslie heard Toni let out a whimper, looked up, and saw her facedown on a large fire ant hill. Leslie ran to Toni, swept her up, and brushed off the ants from her arms and legs. She noticed a lot of ant bites on her, but wasn't too concerned because Toni had been previously bitten over fifty times.
Leslie set Toni in a swing and asked Ken to come outside and watch her while Leslie finished washing the car. Ken came right out and saw that Toni's eyes and lips were swollen, and her face was covered in white blotches. Thinking it must be a reaction to the bites, Leslie went inside to get Toni an antihistamine. Within another minute, Toni began to gasp for air. Ken grabbed her from the swing and ran to the house. By the time he got inside, Toni started to have seizures.
Leslie told Ken to jump in the car with Toni and drive toward the hospital, called 911, told the dispatcher Ken's route, and asked him to have an ambulance intercept the car. Leslie knew that to wait for an ambulance to arrive at the house, which was located in such a remote area, might be fatal. "The toughest part," she recalls, "was to let Ken go with her and not knowing if she'd be alive when I saw her again."
Paramedics Keith Soles and his partner, Jim Walsh, were dispatched to intercept Ken's car. They had no idea where they might encounter it, but the men were aware that people frequently die from severe allergic reactions. They hoped to intercept Toni before her airway swelled to the point where it closed, and she couldn't breathe anymore.
Ken tried to maintain his calm as he sped to the hospital with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on Toni, whom he hoped would stay conscious. As he turned off the two-lane road onto the divided interstate, Toni's condition continued to deteriorate. Meanwhile, Leslie headed to the hospital with Ken's friend. "All I could think of on the way to the hospital," she recalls, "was, 'God, please don't take my baby.' You can never replace a child."
Ken heard a siren and pulled onto the shoulder. He jumped out of the car and hoped the paramedics, who were approaching from the opposite direction, would see him waving. Soles and Walsh did see Ken on the other side of the highway holding a baby, but rather than drive across the median, they exited the next off-ramp and reentered on his side. The paramedics whisked Toni from Ken's arms, loaded her into the ambulance, and rushed to the hospital. "The child was trying to cry," Soles remembers, "but was in a respiratory state where they couldn't, and had to concentrate their total effect on breathing."
At Coliseum Hospital, Toni was examined and treated by Dr. Tim Graves. "Her condition was at the breakpoint," recalls Dr. Graves. "She was either going to get better or get worse fairly quickly." Toni was given oxygen to aid her breathing and an injection of epinephrine to reverse the effects of allergic reaction. Her condition immediately improved, and she started to scream and cry, a positive sign that she was responding to the injection. Toni was released from the hospital, a happy, healthy baby.
"Toni is back to normal," says Ken, "and she can do everything normal kids do, as well as wrap Daddy around her little finger. I'm very grateful to the emergency room people and the paramedics." Dr. Graves feels that the Moseleys' decision to meet the ambulance on the road--unwise and not advisable in general--proved to be a smart move in Toni's case because allergic reactions can cause devastating results in minutes. If Toni gets stung by a bee or a wasp in the future, or bitten by ants again, she may suffer an even more deadly allergic reaction the next time. For this reason, the Moseleys now carry a medical kit with epinephrine--the same drug used at the hospital--at all times. Leslie recalls, "Toni will grow up okay. She's playful and spunky, smart and wild, and she gives her brother a hard time."