New Lenox girl, 9, stops moving car when mom goes into diabetic coma
By BRIAN STANLEY email@example.com January 24, 2013 5:40PM
Aleksandra Sheridan (front), 9, took the wheel of her family's 2010 Volkswagen Beetle and was able to stop the car after her mother, Jennifer (top), slipped into a diabetic coma while driving on Jan. 18. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 26, 2013 6:41AM
NEW LENOX — A 9-year-old girl wasn’t planning to get her hands on the car keys during a routine ride to McDonalds last week.
But when her mother went into a diabetic coma at the wheel Jan. 18, Aleksandra “Alex” Sheridan ended a lengthy ride by stopping the car before it struck a tree.
After attending a cousin’s basketball game in Lockport, Rich Sheridan and Brett Sheridan, 16, drove home in the family minivan while Alex, a third-grader at Haines Elementary School, and her mom, Jennifer, picked up a few items at Wal-Mart. They got back in their Volkswagen Beetle and decided to pick up a late dinner.
Jennifer Sheridan remembered getting onto Gougar Road, but she doesn’t remember passing their house in the Thunder Ridge subdivision or passing Route 30 to turn for McDonalds.
“I started getting worried. (My mom) was sweating. She went through a red light,” Alex said. “At times we were going five miles per hour and then we’d be going over 70.”
Jennifer vaguely recalled her daughter telling her to pull into a gas station, but being unable to do it. By that time, Rich Sheridan had called to ask about the delay.
“I told him we were lost. I took a picture of the sign for Woody’s Auto Body and texted it so he could try and figure out where we were,” Alex said.
Car leaves road
Amid the screaming and crying, Jennifer Sheridan drove her car off the road near Laraway and Center roads in Frankfort.
“We were about to hit a tree, so I reached over and turned off the key to stop the car,” Alex said.
Seven years before she’ll get her license, Alex learned you can kill the ignition on a Volkswagen while it’s in gear, but you can’t take the key out.
“So she kept holding onto the key so I wouldn’t try and start the car again until the police and ambulance came,” Jennifer Sheridan said.
Alex also fed her mom part of a candy bar before help arrived. After the first Frankfort police officer on the scene asked a couple of questions, he turned over his vehicle to Alex, too.
“He told me I could press any of the buttons. I turned on the lights, sirens,” she said.
Paramedics examined Jennifer and gave Alex a stuffed “Golden Duck of Heroism” for her efforts.
“Everyone was calling her a hero, which made her feel good,” Jennifer Sheridan said.
Alex rode in the front of the ambulance as Jennifer was taken to Silver Cross Hospital. The ambulance ride is the first thing the diabetic distinctly remembers after leaving Lockport.
“Nothing like this has happened before. I check my blood sugar all the time and I’ve just been thinking I could’ve killed us or somebody else,” she said. She now plans to wear an insulin pump.
Jennifer remembers Alex talked throughout the ride to the hospital. The family finally got home around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
“That’s the latest I’ve stayed up except for a sleepover,” Alex said.
Jennifer Sheridan said all of the police and firefighters were heroic, but only her daughter’s gotten art supplies, an American Girl doll and a week off from discipline out of gratitude.