A 10-year-old Mastic girl remained in critical condition Thursday after choking on a tortilla chip, but has awakened "a little" and has even tried to remove a medical tube -- a positive sign, her father said.
"She's aware and that's a good thing I'm looking at," said Alan Kiceina of his daughter, Alana, who was in the pediatric intensive care unit at Stony Brook Long Island Children's Hospital. "She's got life in her."
Alana went into cardiac arrest Wednesday on the front lawn of her Abbott Avenue home, police said, after choking on the tortilla chip. She was saved through the efforts of a passing stranger and Suffolk police officers.
Alana had been outside playing and eating the chips when she chased the family dog, Alan Kiceina said. His wife, Joan, who was also outside with their three other children, saw Alana lying "on the grass, and her head's turning side to side," Kiceina said. His wife "screamed and yelled," drawing the attention of a man who performed CPR.
Thursday, Alana was "being treated for a pulmonary hemorrhage after cardiac arrest," said Dr. Daniel Sloniewsky, a pediatric intensive care specialist. She "remains on a ventilator to assist her breathing."
The first Suffolk police officer on the scene, 17-year-veteran David Frabizio, said CPR and a defibrillator were used to revive Alana. Frabizio said when he arrived Wednesday afternoon, Shawn Mitchell, 35, of Ridge, was trying to revive Alana with CPR. Officials said Mitchell's quick action helped save the girl's life.
Mitchell, an unemployed construction worker, said Wednesday night that he had stopped his truck on Abbott when he saw some tree cutters working to ask whether he could have some logs. Moments later, he saw Alana's mother. "She was standing on the front lawn . . . shaking her daughter's arm," he said, " . . . and there was no response."
He said he learned CPR in the Army about 15 years ago but never had to use it.
Alan Kiceina said his daughter's close call underscored the value of knowing CPR.
As for how he and his wife are coping, he said, "I tell my wife, 'Don't look at that event,' " he said. " 'Wipe it clean and look at hope.' "
With Bill Mason