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Trooper hailed as a hero after saving baby who stopped breathing

"He's a godsend, a hero in our eyes," baby Brexley's dad told "GMA."
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Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 07, 2024

A Kansas trooper who helped save a baby girl who had stopped breathing last month says he was simply at the right place at the right time.

Baby Brexley was traveling with her parents, mom Gracie Gray and dad Kahl Huffman, along U.S. Highway 54 in Kiowa County on May 12 when her parents said she suddenly stopped breathing, lost consciousness and started turning a purplish color.

"On our way to church, she just kind of got into this weird cry, so I had Kahl pull over," Gray recounted to "Good Morning America."

"She kind of went down [and lost consciousness]. I rubbed her back and patted her back, started rubbing her chest a little bit and she came to for a little while, and then shortly after, she just went down again," Gray continued.

Both Gray, 22, and Huffman, 30, said they felt "helpless" at the time.

"There's not really much you could do on the side of the road to get her what she actually needed. So it was pretty scary," Gray said, describing the situation as "very traumatic."

Huffman dialed 911, and within minutes, Master Trooper Evan Jacks of the Kansas Highway Patrol responded to the call.

"When Evan showed up, he didn't hesitate one bit. He was right on it," said Huffman, who said he went to high school with Jacks.

Jacks told "GMA" that about eight to nine months ago, he watched as EMTs responded when his own child stopped breathing during a health scare, and he applied the life-saving skills he witnessed then when he encountered Brexley on that Mother's Day morning.

"I just put her chest down on my arm and rubbed her back and patted her on the back quite vigorously until she started crying," Jacks recalled.

CPR in an infant is performed differently than in a child or an adult, and knowing the differences is critical during an emergency response.

Afterward, Brexley was taken to two hospitals before being transferred to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 13. She has since been diagnosed with a rare congenital heart condition called Shone's complex or Shone's syndrome. According to the National Library of Medicine, Shone's complex is a condition where there are four obstructive lesions of the left heart, which can cause a heart murmur, shortness of breath, an enlarged left ventricle and dilatation of the left atrium.

"She was undiagnosed at birth. We had no idea of any heart problems at the time," Huffman said of his daughter's condition, which he said has affected her breathing, feeding and other abilities.

Brexley, now 5 weeks old, has since undergone multiple treatments, including a recent open heart surgery, from which she is currently recovering.

Huffman said if it wasn't for Jacks, things may have turned out different for Brexley.

"He's a godsend, a hero in our eyes," Huffman said. "I've always known he was a good person, great dude, but never really would have guessed that he [would be] saving my child's life someday and be one of our heroes."

Meanwhile, Jacks has been honored by Brexley's family and the Triangle Rodeo Club in Greensburg, Kansas, with a plaque and was recognized as a hometown hero at a Wichita Wind Surge baseball game last week. But despite all the accolades, Jacks, who described his job as a "calling," said he credits God for putting him in the position to help.

"The good Lord had me in the right place at the right time. That's what it boils down to," Jacks said. "I was placed in the right spot at the right time to get the opportunity to save a life that day."

As Brexley continues on the road to recovery, her father said he encourages other parents to seek help when they have a feeling their child might need it.

"If you ever have any doubt or question about your baby, if you're new parents or anything, don't hesitate to get help or reach out, even if you feel silly, because you just never know," Huffman said.

He added, "This blindsided us like crazy, and we're just so thankful that we were able to end up where we were, because it could have been so much different."