Hobart mom takes to Facebook to thank Hobart officer for helping save 2-year-old's life after seizure

Hobart police Cpl. Mark Grissom holds 2-year-old Elijah Dugger on Saturday. Grissom, along with Dugger's mom Linda McMahan, helped save Elijah after the boy suffered a seizure Tuesday.

Before near tragedy caused their lives to intersect Tuesday, Linda McMahan and Mark Grissom were sharing a common pain.

McMahan, 35, who works in the medical field, and Grissom, 43, a corporal with the Hobart Police Department, both couldn't shake the news they heard earlier that day about a brother and sister in Portage that were struck by a train.

"It was on my mind as the call came out," Grissom recalled. "'Two-year-old. Full arrest.'"

First responders were dispatched to McMahan's Hobart home at 2:02 p.m., just before Grissom's shift was set to end. 

Her 2-year-old son, Elijah Dugger, was having a seizure. 

Elijah has autism and sensory processing disorder.

Minutes earlier, she had gotten Elijah down for a nap and made one of her daughters a grilled cheese sandwich.  

She then took to her computer and was reading aloud to a friend an updated online news story about Caleb, 3, and Ellie Wilson, 2, who were struck by an eastbound freight train about 9:30 a.m. that day near their home in Portage. 

Caleb died at the scene. Ellie was in critical condition in a Chicago hospital. 

"My heart was breaking for that family and I was upset reading the article when he started having the seizure," McMahan said.

McMahan, who first became certified in CPR when she was 12, was performing the procedure on Elijah while on the phone with 911.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw flashing lights and thought it was the ambulance," McMahan said.

Instead it was Grissom.

"I couldn't get there fast enough," said Grissom who was at the home less than two minutes after the initial call came out.

McMahan shot out of the house with Elijah in her arms and handed him over to Grissom.

"I kept screaming 'Don't let my baby die!'" McMahan recalled. 

The officer removed Elijah's T-shirt in the pouring rain to cool down the boy whose temperature had soared to 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit at that point.

Performing sternum rubs in the short walk from the front yard to his squad car, Grissom placed the boy flat on his trunk and continued to work on him.

"Thirty seconds later, he sat up, grabbed my arm and wouldn't let go," Grissom said. 

Grissom deflected credit, placing it instead with McMahan.

"She did most of the work. I just pushed him over the hump."

Grissom, who has two grown daughters, said calls involving children "bring out something different."

"You see so much bad stuff in this job," Grissom said.

It was Grissom who in September 2013 rescued an 83-year-old Valparaiso woman from her car after it careened into Lake George, according to Times archives. 

She would die hours later.

Tuesday's positive outcome sticks with Grissom. 

"That's what we do the job for," Grissom said. "The good days. Those are the satisfying moments."

On Saturday, Grissom was on a call near McMahan's home when he decided to check on Elijah. 

"My son went right to him and gave him a big hug," McMahan said. "He didn't have to go out of his way."

She snapped a photo of the two embracing and took to Facebook to share.

"I know a lot of people have negative things to say about police and that is why I'm making this post," McMahan's Facebook post read in part. "This complete stranger came to our rescue when we needed it the most and this is what he does day in and day out. He came by today to check on us and I just had to show my appreciation to him as well as the EMS, and Hobart police department for doing all they did."

Her Facebook post was shared almost 200 times in just a few hours.

McMahan, a mother of five, said a major lesson that can be taken from Tuesday's incident is that every parent should learn CPR.

"One-hundred percent," McMahan said. "Every parent should know."

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