Iowa mom visiting DC wants to thank bystanders who helped her sick son

- An Iowa woman reached out to FOX 5 in hopes of thanking the Good Samaritans who rushed to help her son when her family was visiting DC.

While getting on Interstate 295 at Pennsylvania Avenue to head back to Iowa, Jessica Russel said her 3-year-old son Xavier became violently ill, even foaming at the mouth.

“I heard Xavier in the back making a gargling or choking sound so I thought he was playing around and when I turned around he was actually foaming at the mouth, his lips were blue and he wasn’t responding to anything I was saying,” Russel recalled.

Russel said she hit the brakes, stopping traffic behind her as she attempted to pull over. She pulled Xavier out of the family’s vehicle and that’s when she said a couple approached her.

“I don’t even know if for sure the couple knew English, but they knew enough to understand that there was panic and they helped us," Russel described. "They brought us water."

As she was on the phone with 911, Russel said more help arrived. This time, it was an officer.

“He wasn’t in a marked car so I don’t think he was on duty, but he got out and he asked us a bunch of questions," she said. "He kept checking his (Xavier’s) breathing. Made sure we were already calling an ambulance."

Russel said shortly afterward an off-duty firefighter rushed in to help. Instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive, Russel said he called co-workers who he knew were nearby.

“He called the paramedics that he works with and asked them to come up because he had just left them,” Russel recalled.

Xavier was rushed to Children's National Medical Center where Russel said it appeared he suffered a seizure as his temperature spiked to 104 degrees.

The 3-year-old has since recovered and Russel said she has the DC bystanders to thank for that.

“I really wanted to thank all these people because we are not from there. I was panicking. I didn't know what was going to happen next, where we were going to go,” Russel said. “They kept saying, ‘We're going to take care of your son.’”

FOX 5 has been working with the mayor's office, fire emergency services and the police department to help track down the bystanders who helped.

We’ve learned that one was an off-duty officer with the Metro Police Department, but the other three have yet to be identified.

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