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Quick-thinking father and son save choking Tipton woman

Carilyn Morse of Tipton collapsed while choking last Sunday, and was unconscious and unable to breathe. Her husband Dell Morse (left) and son Matthew Laue, who lives at the northeast Cedar Rapids home where the family was gathered, turned her on her side and worked to revive her while calling for an ambulance. Photographed on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. Iowa won 42-16. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Carilyn Morse of Tipton collapsed while choking last Sunday, and was unconscious and unable to breathe. Her husband Dell Morse (left) and son Matthew Laue, who lives at the northeast Cedar Rapids home where the family was gathered, turned her on her side and worked to revive her while calling for an ambulance. Photographed on Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. Iowa won 42-16. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sundays are family time for the Morses, their son Matthew Laue and his family.

The Morses, who live in Tipton, go to church and then spend the afternoon with Laue and his wife and four children at their home in Cedar Rapids. So, the scene two Sundays ago of the adults sitting around the living room cracking jokes was pretty normal.

What happened next was anything but.

I told a joke and Carilyn was taking a drink and must have had a pretty good size drink because she started hacking

- Dell Morse

Witness

“I told a joke and Carilyn was taking a drink and must have had a pretty good size drink because she started hacking,” said Dell Morse, 56. “We thought water went down the wrong pipe. She got up to go to the restroom to try to clear things out. She got to the hallway and we heard a loud thump.”

Laue recalls when it happened.

“I was sitting in the chair and I looked over and saw her fall down and heard a big flub,” said Laue, 30. “I realized she was still choking and gasping for air ... When she didn’t move I realized something was wrong. It only took a couple of seconds to realize she wasn’t getting up.”

Carilyn Morse, 57, was unconscious and she wasn’t breathing, they said. She was taking deep gasps in but could not exhale. The fluid was blocking her airways, Laue described.

Both men are First Aid/CPR certified and they jumped into action. Laue arrived first. They turned her on her side and applied several forceful pats to her back.

Unfortunately, this is not the family’s first experience with First Aid/CPR. Laue tried to resuscitate his 17-day old son who was found not breathing in 2012, but Dakota died in the ambulance, he said.

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Mom started coming to as they managed to clear her airway, but she was disoriented and started vomiting, they said. Laue’s two older kids were scared and confused while his two younger children weren’t sure what was happening to grandma, Laue said.

When she fell, she hit her head so hard it caused a concussion, they said. They called for an ambulance to rush her to the emergency room.

Carilyn Morse recalls very little. She remembers laughing at the table, putting her hands around her throat as she tried to clear it and then nothing until vague memories of paramedics arriving.

She didn’t understand the severity of the situation until seeing a family doctor a couple days later. The doctor read the medical report and relayed it to her, “I would have died if not for Dell and my son,” Carilyn Morse said.

The doctor told her she had lung aspiration, in which a foreign substance such as food or liquid blocks the airway, causing choking. She said “technically” it would have been a drowning if not for her family, she said.

“This was really serious and I had no clue,” Carilyn Morse said. “It shook me up, woke me up. I’m realizing family is extremely important, and I am going to make an effort to spend more time with family.”

Greg Buelow, public safety spokesman for Cedar Rapids, credited the family for their actions.

“This is outstanding work by the family members to help save their wife/mom,” he said in an email, adding that training is offered through several organizations including hospitals, Area Ambulance Service, Kirkwood Community College and Red Cross.

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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