Balto. Co. teen survives shock, fall from ladder

Neighbor, paramedic help save his life

April 03, 1999|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A little luck and a lot of technology combined this week to save the life of a Baltimore County teen-ager.

Stephen E. Schoolcraft, 15, was helping his stepfather repair a roof in the 2800 block of Alden Road early Wednesday when the aluminum ladder they were positioning swung into a power line.

"Because of the electricity, they couldn't move," Stephen's mother, Deborah Howdershell, said yesterday. She said her husband, Randy Howdershell, was also shocked but recovered quickly.

After the ladder hit the power line, Mrs. Howdershell said, a transformer blew and stopped the flow of electricity, which allowed her husband to let go of the ladder. Stephen fell to the ground unconscious.

Swift action by a neighbor, a Baltimore County police officer and paramedics saved the teen-ager.

Joan Towler, who lives nearby, rushed over and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Mrs. Howdershell said. Shortly afterward, Officer Terry Conway of the Baltimore County police arrived and took over the CPR.

"His eyes were rolled back, there was no pulse, he was turning blue," Conway said of Stephen.

Engine No. 10, which brought the paramedics, had a cardiac defibrillator -- a device to shock the heart and restart it -- on board, said Baltimore County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard. Paramedics used it to revive Stephen.

Grant money and donations made it possible for the county to put defibrillators on every truck, Hubbard said. "It saved this kid's life, period," he said.

Stephen was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and was released yesterday. His right foot and hand were burned, Mrs. Howdershell said.

"Stephen is doing better. Today is his 16th birthday, and we have two cakes," she said. "It's just a time to be thankful."

Pub Date: 4/03/99

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