This is the story of what happened on February 8th, 2006 to our son Tucker White Salisbury.
February 8th, 2006. We awoke like any other Wednesday am, getting ready for our days. Irv had already showered as he had a meeting that morning and was out getting the boys breakfast. Darci jumped into the shower, enjoying a refreshing start to her day without any more morning sickness, finally. (she was pregnant wtih Isaac)
Irv made some toast for the boys, some with peanut butter and some with jelly and cut them into neat little squares. He normally would have just left for work, but decided Tucker would really enjoy eating these with his brothers. Normally daddy wouldn't go wake Tucker, but decided it would be fun for him. Irv entered the room and turned on the light. Tucker waas laying on his belly, his face somewhat buried by his pillow. He said "Tucker, do you want to come and eat with your brothers" Normally, Tucker would have jumped up with his bright smiling face. But he just laid there. He has been known to play games, so daddy said in a playful voice as he walked closer to his crib, "C'mon Tucker...". At that point, still no movement. Tucker had a mesh cage around his crib (which normally protects the children from cats and other things) but this was meant to keep Tucker in his crib as he would just climb out and go wherever. (Next door, out in the road, etc) Irv was getting increasingly concerned at this point and kept saying to himself, "No, no, no" as he unzipped the tent. Tucker's color was ok on the back side, nothing appeared wrong. However, as soon as he touched Tucker, all things started falling apart. He was cold and very stiff. He rolled Tucker over to reveal his very purple and swollen face. He screamed many times, runnning for Darci.
Darci heard the screaming and met Irv in the kitchen. Both of our memories are very very blurry at this point. Irv went to call 911 and Darci went in, got Tucker and brought him out in the living room to do CPR. Both of us were very fantic at this point, and are even shaking as we remember and type this in. We do remember both having a very strong feeling that Tucker was dead at this point. Darci shouted many times "He's dead, he's dead". It is impossible to describe the feelings and emotions that were happening in our house at this point.
Darci performed CPR on Tucker for a very long time. Ving, being the brave warrior, ran next door to get the neighbors. It is interesting now to read their perspective on what happened, and you can see it in the friends section. It seemed like it took forever for the ambulance to get there. We can still both taste the feeling of giving him CPR. It may sound graphic, but this is something vivid in our minds and something we will never forget.
It all didn't seem real. Our boys were watching, the neighbors were there. As Darci counted out her chest compressions and breaths, she heard a still small voice singing, "You are God Alone, in the good times and the Bad, you are God alone." She didn't really know this song, but had remembered hearing it at church. She doesn't recall purposefully ever entering a state of prayer, praying, or even thinking to pray that morning. But she could hear God's voice inside her, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit interceded for Darci until around noon, which is the first time she remembers praying on her own.
The paramedics arrived to our home. Many vehicles. Many people. He had been dead for awhile we both knew. But they still did all the needles, tubes, lines, etc. Darci followed his body outside and it was cold and sunny, with big huge snowflakes falling on everything. Kind of like in slow motion when you push the wrong button on the DVD player. Darci climbed into the back of the ambulance and refused to leave. The police repeatedly demanded she get out, and she didn't until they mentioned using force and a very large EMT sat on her. She sat in the front of the ambulance looking back at Tuck and heard the singing in her heart again, "You are God Alone, in the good times and the bad. You are God alone" She used the drivers phone to call some relatives and friends. She saw tears coming down his cheek. (He eventually came to Tucker's service as did many of the paramedics and others involved in his case)
Irv drove separate to the hospital as a car would be needed and they were not letting others in the ambulance. He was in a huge daze and doesn't remember much about driving there. One vivid memory is the police who was escorting him had to stop at one point along the way to let Irv catch up, and this caused an accident. He remembers thinking, "Please don't let any more suffering go on today".
Once at the hospital, Darci begged the doctor at the entrance to the trauma room to let her in, explaining her qualifications to stay and how she wouldn't cause any trouble. They were in the room like 3 seconds before she said they couldn't do anything for him. Darci asked her if we could donate any of his parts to help others and they said it had been too long. The doctor said she was sorry and then covered his face with a white sheet.
Darci sat at his side and stroked his hair, held his hand, took his medical alert bracelet and put it on her necklace. Irv arrived at the hospital at this point. The song was there again in Darci's heart. She began to sing it out loud and Irv joined in. "You are God Alone, in the good times and the bad, you are God alone." The nurse stood there with us, and we remember seeing tears go down her face, it seemed like she was singing too; worshiping perhaps.
Irv prayed there, over his body. We knew God was sovereign. Psalm 50:15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me. We credit the Lord for our reliance on Him, helping us to honor Him.
Family and friends arrived. Some viewed his body. There were many tears, hugs and a tremendous amount of disbelief.
When we eventually wanted to leave the hospital, we had to talk to the police investigators. Irv described how he had found Tucker, they asked us a few questions and then told us we could go home. They did come to our house, and as we arrived, we saw that there were many police officers there. It is weird coming home from the hospital, mourning the death of your son, stil in disbelief and not even being able to go in his room because a police officer won't let you. We gave everything we could think of to the police to help them, and they were very respectful and courteous in doing their jobs. Teh chief investigator turned out to be a Christian himself, even comforting us with the story of Lazarus. The Lord definitely goes before you...
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
As we found out later with death caused by seizures, it is really difficult for the medical examiner to determine a cause. The process can take months, and even then there can be no specific determination. With a death that has no immediate explanation, the protocl for child protective services is to remove the other children from the home. Praise be to God that they after their initial interview they didn't see the need for that. However, they did inform us that we'd have to have another adult at the house at all times. It seemed very callous at the time, but we know they were just doing their jobs. It is a very weird set of emotions to be greiving the loss of a son that you would happily die for to bring him back, all at the same time being investigated for potentially being involved in his death. Everyone involved did their unfortunate jobs with respect for us, and we are appreciative of that. However, when the medical examiner and the police both told child protective services there wasn't even a hint of suspicion, and they didn't drop their case, we did have to seek legal counsel. In fact, one year later, they still have an open case against us. Please pray with us that this will end in a timely fashion. We do want to praise our medical examiner, who communicated above and beyond the call of duty with us, and even went the extra mile to send samples to many labs. Her diligent work did find some very abnormal things in Tucker's brain, and does allow us to have seizures listed as a primary cause of death, instead of "unknown".
Tucker had epilepsy, but had no seizures the 9 months prior to his death. We were told he would take medicine to stop his seizures, then we would wait a few years and take him off of the medicine to see how he would do. He had 2 normal EEGs. We thought seizures were something he'd outgrow. In fact, early on we had worries about him sleeping alone and were told that we had to be normal and let him. We had a seizure monitor on him, and a baby monitor. Neither of them helped us. The Lord had numbered Tucker's days, as he has numbered all of ours. He is sovereign over everything.
We spent the next several days with friends and family, and spending much time preparing for his service. There are too many people to thank here. We want all of you who helped us during this time to know that we greatly appreciate your efforts. They will mean a lot to us for many years. We had an incredible memorial service for Tucker. We were told there was more than 600 people there. What a tremendous impact this little boy had on the world. From the medical examiner, to the police investigator, to the ambulance people, to the person Tucker had talked to at the pool a few days before he died. Many lives were impacted.
While we cannot specifically determine what happened to Tucker during the night of February 7th, here are our thoughts.
We believe Tucker went to sleep that night, and awoke in Jesus' arms. We don't believe he suffered. This is due to both the medical examiners report and the fact that neither his seizure monitor nor his baby monitor seemed to alert us. His seizures were usually followed with at least a half an hour of unconscious, deep breathing, and he wouldn't remember anything. His body was found on his belly, his favorite sleeping position. There were no signs of a conscious physical struggle. We believe that at some point while sleeping on his belly, he had a seizure, which either was so massive it ended his life directly, or during his post-ictal, post-seizure time of unconsciousness he died either from not getting enough oxygen or something else related to his position. There is a term called SUDEP, which stands for sudden unexplained death in epileptic patients. It is interesting to note that there are organizations worldwide that help people dealing with deaths from SUDEP. So, it happens more than the doctors make it out to be. Our research has shown that often with SUDEP, even if the person is lying on the couch next to you, they often die quickly and silently and there is nothing you can do to help them. While this does bring some comfort to us, it is very small compared to the loss we feel. SUDEP deaths can range from heart abnormalities to breathing problems, to lack of oxygen, etc. We will never know what really happened in his bedroom that night. We believe that God doesn't intend for us to know. We had a baby monitor on and a seizure monitor under his mattress. They never went off. Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God!