KOSSUTH TOWNSHIP, Maine — Ever since he was in high school, Wade Shorey has taken CPR courses every two or three years.
But the 32-year-old forester never needed to use those skills until he came upon an accident scene on Route 6 in Washington County Monday afternoon, and was able to help save a 3-month-old infant who was cold and blue after spending some time underwater.
“Don’t call me a hero. I’m not the only one — there were other people there,” Shorey said Tuesday afternoon, adding that he has been thinking a lot about the baby, and the accident. “My hopes and prayers to the family that all is well.”
Shorey still had a long drive ahead of him to his home near Old Town when he noticed a stopped pickup truck and some people standing in the icy road at about 4:30 p.m. Monday. It was dark, cold and raining, and he stopped to see if he could be of assistance. That’s when he saw that the two people in the road were soaking wet and hysterical, and heard from them that a vehicle was in the stream.
He ran to an SUV that was upside down in about two and a half feet of water and used the flashlight in his cellphone to illuminate the dark scene. The first driver who stopped to help, a man named John Moody, was already in the water, as was Beverly Metcalf, 34, of Talmadge, the baby’s mother.
“The mother said her baby was in the vehicle,” Shorey recounted. “All I could see was the base of the car seat and the seat belt. At that point, having three kids of my own, that’s not the thing you want to see.”
Moody cut the car seat and freed it.
“It literally floated outside the window. The baby was still strapped inside,” Shorey said.
The infant, a girl whose name was not released Tuesday, had been underwater.
“She was not breathing and she was blue and cold,” Shorey said. “The mother was screaming that we needed to get her warmed up. I knew that getting the baby warm was not the priority — we needed to get her breathing.”
They got out of the stream and up to the shoulder of the road. Shorey cradled the baby girl in one arm, holding her head in one hand and using the other hand to do a two-fingered chest compression. Periodically, he gave the baby a couple of puffs of breath.
A minute or two later, the blue, cold baby started to breathe on her own.
“Still very slow breaths. Very gurgly. She still had water in her lungs,” Shorey said. “She was hypothermic. Until the ambulance arrived, I was not too relieved. Anything can happen, with someone that small.”
The baby and the others in the car — Metcalf, driver Stephen McGouldrick, 55, and Brenda Haney, 53, both of Calais — all were taken to Calais Regional Hospital to be treated. The adults were released, a hospital employee said Tuesday, but the baby was transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for further treatment.
No further information about the baby’s condition was immediately available. Efforts to reach the family Tuesday were unsuccessful.
State police Trooper Chad Lindsey said Tuesday that the driver had lost control on the icy road and that the vehicle went off an embankment airborne and landed on its roof in about 2 and a half feet of water in a stream.
If Wade hadn’t happened along, “the baby would be dead, no question about it,” Lindsey said.
The trooper said that when he left the Calais hospital Monday night, the baby was breathing peacefully. He had not heard an update Tuesday about her condition.
Lindsey added that Shorey’s actions were the most remarkable he’s seen in his 3½ years on the force.
“It’s not often we get one with a happy ending,” he said.
On Tuesday, Shorey wanted to make sure the others who helped also receive their share of attention and thanks. There was Moody, who went into the stream to get the baby out of the SUV. There was a woman who stopped to let the freezing people warm up in her truck. There were the first responders, who had to drive the same treacherous roads in order to help. And there was the person driving a Maine Department of Transportation salt and sand truck, who managed to squeak past the ambulance and vehicles stopped at the accident scene in order to continue ahead and make the road safer for everyone.
“My kids all got a very good goodnight hug and kiss when I got home,” Shorey said.
BDN writer Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this report.