WARETOWN – As Lauren McLaughlin waited in her car to place an order at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 9, she heard her infant son wheezing from the back seat.
Troubled by the unusual sound, the 23-year-old first-time mother immediately pulled into a parking spot to check on baby Leland. Her concerns instantly shifted to alarm.
The nine-month-old baby boy was unconscious and changing colors.
“I quickly took him out of the car seat and ran into Dunkin’ Donuts,” shared McLaughlin. “Thankfully, there were three police officers inside. They took him from me, did CPR and got a pulse. They stayed with us even after the ambulance came and took us to the hospital.”
According to Ocean Township Police Lieutenant Scott Murphy, he and the other officers happened to be in the right place at the right time. He and Patrolman Philip Calanni had just finished a joint call with Ocean County Sheriff Sergeant David Deleeuw.
“We were at the Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a cup of coffee and doing a debrief on the job when the mom came walking in,” Murphy said. “The baby was limp and blue.”
Deleeuw noticed Lauren was distraught as she entered the store but didn’t initially see she was holding her baby. The young mother collapsed to the floor as Calanni quickly took Leland from her as she screamed her child wasn’t breathing.
The team of officers sprang into action. They did a quick assessment and began CPR. Patrolman Kyle Pimm came in from the field and joined in the life-saving efforts.
“Between Lieutenant Murphy and Officer Pimm, they literally picked him up and put him on the stretcher from Quality,” said Deleeuw.
The policemen continued the compressions in the ambulance rig until paramedics met them on the Garden State Parkway. Medics took over giving Leland CPR as the small boy traveled to Southern Ocean County Medical Center.
Doctors at the local hospital determined that Leland required a higher level of care. They airlifted Lauren and her son to Jersey Shore Medical Center for assessment and treatment.
“We were in Jersey Shore for six days, with Leland under sedation for four of those days,” detailed McLaughlin. “They had him on a ventilator and he started breathing on his own once he took the tube out.”
Doctors never determined what caused the episode that could have cost the small child his life. Murphy credits Lauren’s instincts for immediately getting him help. Lauren’s face beamed with gratitude as she thanked the four policemen for their well-orchestrated rescue.
Law enforcement officers often follow up on serious calls to check in on victims. An Ocean Township detective kept in touch with Lauren within a day after the May 7th incident. The local department took it a step further once Leland came home with his mom. They planned an in-person wellness call of the best kind – and ensured Deleeuw was there as well.
A cascade of “Get Well” balloons flew in the breeze as Lauren and Leland stood in front of their Bayberry Drive residence. The infant’s big blue eyes seemingly took in each of the officers who smiled and doted on him. The baby showed no signs of distress, and it was hard to imagine the event that brought everyone together.
“This was a group effort,” Murphy said. “Luckily, today we’re sitting here hanging out with both mom and the baby.”