BRUSH PRAIRIE — Ashley Eggleston was never shy to call her three children her angels, but a recent scare brought three new angels into her world.
Eggleston, 33, was at home on Oct. 6 with her three kids: Owen Meyer, 13, Nora Meyer, 10, and Evan Meyer, 8. Nora was upstairs and the brothers were in the living room when they heard a loud crashing sound come from the kitchen.
“I heard a plate fall and break,” Evan said. “It startled me. I ran in and saw mommy on the floor.”
Eggleston’s heart had stopped. She collapsed, hitting her head on what she assumes was the floor, although she has no recollection of the event. She credits her fast-acting kids and three teenagers who happened to be driving by with saving her life. Those teenagers were Hockinson High School juniors Emilee Tikka, 16, and Eva Sarkinen, 16, and Prairie High School sophomore Kate Nylund, 15.
“It was so scary, but those kids needed help,” Eva said. “So we did what we could to help them.”
After six days in the hospital, Eggleston recently got to meet her new angels while she was at home recovering. She now has a defibrillator in her chest and is easing back into work while trying to piece together memories from her brush with death. Eggleston has had heart palpitations for years, and once fainted a few years back. Tests didn’t turn up anything then. When she was in the hospital, she was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a heart rhythm condition.
The three high schoolers were driving from Emilee’s house and were passing by Eggleston’s when her kids ran out to them.
“We thought they were being kids and just running around, so we stopped and rolled down the window,” Emilee said. “They were yelling that their mom fell so we ran inside with them.”
Eggleston and her kids moved into the home that Emilee’s family had moved out of about a month earlier, which came in handy when Emilee called 911. She was able to give the dispatcher the address for the home. She put the phone on speaker and handed it to Kate.
The dispatcher walked Eva through administering CPR to Eggleston, who had stopped breathing. Emilee sat with Eggleston’s three kids trying to calm them down. Eva did CPR for about four minutes, a time that “felt like it was forever,” she said.
After the ambulance arrived, the girls took Eggleston’s kids upstairs while first responders used a defibrillator on their mom. They all learned they had some connections beyond Emilee living in their home prior to them. Eva’s younger sister, Marissa Sarkinen, 10, is friends with Nora. They talked about Marissa and the house.
About 10 minutes after first responders, Eggleston’s mother, Vicki Eggleston, arrived. She lives in Yacolt and was on her way over already before her daughter collapsed. She saw the first responders and assumed one of the kids was hurt playing outside or something. She walked in and saw first responders doing compressions on her daughter, and was told her grandkids were upstairs.
“It was horrifying,” Vicki Eggleston said. “I went upstairs to make sure the kids were OK, and I could tell the girls did an amazing job at comforting them. They were definitely scared, but those girls were doing their best to lighten the mood.”
The three kids stayed with their father, who lives nearby, while Eggleston was in the hospital. Sometime after the accident, the three girls returned with a blanket, cards and their phone numbers, in case Eggleston was ever in need of a babysitter. They returned to Eggleston’s house recently to finally meet the woman whose life they helped save. Eggleston said it was an emotional meeting, and she couldn’t do more than say thanks and hug them.
“Seeing her in person made it all real,” Kate said.
Eva said she and her friends were getting updates from her sister, but they wanted to see Eggleston in person for some closure. It isn’t necessarily closure, though. Both the high school students and Eggleston say this event has bonded them together.
“We’re basically family now,” Kate said.
As the story has gotten out through the school district and social media, the high schoolers said the attention has been a bit odd. They’re getting texts from relatives, praised by teachers in class and hearing from friends of parents they barely know. Emilee said a lot of people have said they’re not sure if they could do what the three local high schoolers did. They aren’t so sure that’s the case, however. Eva said she wouldn’t have thought she and her friends could do what they did, but in the moment they felt like they had no choice.
“We were meant to be there,” she said. “It’s not a coincidence.”