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Mail carrier squeezes the life back into a suffocating infant

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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Chris Brown, right, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Greer, is being credited with saving the life of infant Eli Cooper from suffocating. Parents John and Stephanie Cooper call Brown's response a miracle.
 

Photo courtesy Roberto Torres

Chris Brown, right, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Greer, is being credited with saving the life of infant Eli Cooper from suffocating. Parents John and Stephanie Cooper call Brown's response a miracle.

 

Eli Cooper will celebrate his first birthday Saturday, one week after he was within his final breaths of suffocating on a plastic wrapper he put into his mouth.

“It’s a miracle,” Stephanie Cooper, Eli’s mother, said of mailman Chris Brown’s timely delivery of a package that required him to come to her door.

“I didn’t realize at the time it was a life and death situation,” Brown said. “I was shocked when Mrs. Cooper ran out of the house with her son in her arms. I just knew the child wasn’t breathing and I had to get oxygen to his lungs.”

Brown said he also knew that permanent brain damage can occur in as little as four minutes when a person does not get enough air.

“A calm just came over me and I just wanted to get this child breathing again. The child was so little, I worried about squeezing him too hard with the Heimlich maneuver,” Brown said. He learned the life-saving maneuver during emergency training with the post office.

“When I heard the baby crying I knew he was going to be all right,” Brown said. “The plastic came right out.”

Cooper said she saw Eli put the wrapper in his mouth where it was lodged in his throat cutting off his air. Before she frantically reached her son, Eli was already struggling breathing.

“I slapped his back between the shoulder blades and realized he still wasn’t getting any air,” Cooper said. That’s when Cooper ran out of the house looking for help and ran into Brown.

“My son’s life was in his hands,” Cooper said.

Brown, 24 years in the U.S. Postal Service, wanted to be a policeman or fireman before choosing delivering mail. “When you think about it, we are sometimes like first responders,” Brown said.

Cooper said a series of coincidences can be traced to Brown being in the right place at the right time.

Cooper found a pair of shoes in her size she liked last week but a 12-year-old claimed them minutes before. “It was the last pair so I ordered them to be delivered,” Cooper said.

Last Friday Brown was given an assistant for his mail deliveries. “If I had not been given an assistant I would have passed Mrs. Cooper’s house well before she came out of the house with her son,” Brown said.

The irony of that time sequence was that normally between 3:30 – 4 p.m. daily there is plenty of activity with children playing and neighbors outdoors. “There was nobody outside. I looked in all directions and didn’t see anybody. If I didn’t have a package to deliver I would have just put their mail in the box and left,” Brown said.

“It was so creepy. I am just so glad Chris was here,” Cooper said. “I think it was 45 minutes to an hour, when Eli was in my arms, I just cried, and cried and cried. At that point Eli was just laughing and looking at me.”

Few people knew the story of Brown’s heroics. “I went to my small cleaning business after work and didn’t talk to anybody. It wasn’t until the next day when I spoke with a friend and he asked, ‘Chris, did you save someone’s life yesterday?’”

Brown’s life is getting back to normal but it’s taken a while. “I think it hit me yesterday what had happened and has sunk in. I wouldn’t want to go through that again,” Brown said.

 

 

 

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