She fumbled with the seatbelt. Then the door. Frantic and fearful, she yanked at the straps of the car seat, sliding the nylon between her fingers until she could finally take hold of his body. She turned him over and began to strike his back. It wasn’t until that effort failed that she began to panic.
“I’ve had plenty of CPR training and I knew what to do, but someone later told me that it’s just different when it’s your own child,” she said. “When I realized the back blows and thrusts weren’t working, I just lost every ounce of my training. Then I became dizzy. I just kept thinking, ‘Oh my God, my baby’s not breathing.’”
It was noon. A Friday. Milton Hayes was making his living under the overcast winter skies of the Rocky Mountains, pouring the ready mix concrete needed to anchor the light posts outside of the new Sam’s Club.
When he saw the reflection of Heidi Peck and her son growing larger in his side mirror, he secured the truck and rushed to her side.
“I just reacted,” he said. “I saw someone in trouble and ran in to see what I needed to do.”
A ready mix driver and trainer for the past 18 years, Hayes knows well how to safely pour a superior load of ready mix concrete. As a father of three with CPR training, he’s also well versed in recognizing a child in need. He looked to the mother. Crying, shaking and nearly incoherent, she returned his gaze.
“She was screaming. He was choking,” Hayes said. “There was another man trying to help, but he didn’t know what to do. I reached for the boy.”
The other man hurried to call 911, leaving Hayes to act on his own. Peck looked on.
“I was screaming for help. Screaming that my son wasn’t breathing. He was starting to turn blue and had gone limp,” she said. “He took Jaxon and said, ‘I’ve got to do the Heimlich.’”
Hayes performed the maneuver three or four times in quick succession.
“Each time he did it, my baby’s body came up off of the ground,” Peck said. “Then suddenly, there was just absolute relief. I thought, ‘Oh my God, he’s not dying anymore. He’s going to be okay.’”
The hard candy that had lodged in Jaxon’s throat never was found, but the boy was breathing and sipping water. Hayes again turned his eye to the mother.
“She was having a panic attack,” he said. “I made her sit down and asked her to relax. I told her that her son’s airway was clear. I told her that he was breathing.”
The boy was no longer blue, but his face was still an unnatural shade of red and emergency responders had yet to arrive. While the tension had begun to ease, the fear was still quite real for Peck, a wife and mother of five.
“At that moment (Milton) became the calm after our storm. He was amazing,” she said. “He put one arm around me and the other around Jaxon and held us. He assured me that my son was alive. He assured me that we’d be okay.”
As quickly as it had begun, the moment came to an end. Paramedics arrived and took Peck and Jaxon to an area hospital for evaluation. Both were fine.
With his work not yet done, Hayes again shifted gears.
“Basically, I just went back to unloading, finished the job and went on with the rest of my day,” he said, later adding. “I guess now that I think about it, it was pretty cool that I helped that boy, but it really wasn’t anything special. I just reacted.”
As he continues to train Martin Marietta’s next generation, Hayes said he’ll tell Jaxon’s story when appropriate to illustrate the importance of the company’s safety focus.
“It fits in perfectly with our culture because it shows that you always have to know your situation and always have to know your surroundings,” Hayes said. “You always have to be looking and should always be ready to react. That’s all a part of working safely.”