LOCAL NEWS

Teenagers rush to help Tooele couple after hearing cries for help at campground

Jun 17, 2024, 6:10 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2024, 11:33 am

TOOELE — A group of teenagers are being thanked for rescuing a Tooele man experiencing a seizure and falling into an active firepit while camping.

On June 8, Joey Espinoza was sitting next to his wife, Leanna, when he started seizing and fell face-first into their campfire. With no cell service and no one close by, his wife started screaming for help.

A group of teenagers came to their rescue.

“I kind of heard some ‘Help. Like, help me,'” said James Brown. “And so, at first, we were kind of like a little skeptical just because people drive through the canyon and are doing all sorts of stuff.”

James Brown (left) and Nathan Gillet (right) recalling the rescue.

James Brown (left) and Nathan Gillet (right) recalling the rescue. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

Brown said he and his friends just graduated high school and wanted to take a trip to Middle Canyon in Tooele County before taking off in different life directions.

Once they settled on a campsite, Brown heard screaming in the distance. They decided to jump into their truck and see what was happening.

About 250 yards away, the group found Espinoza and his wife.

“He was lying on the ground, so obviously, he was in distress,” said Zach Peterson, one of the teens in the group.

Peterson got his EMT certification in May and began to use what he learned to help Espinoza.

“The biggest worry that I had was that his throat was going to close, and he wasn’t gonna be able to breathe,” he said.

While Peterson assessed Espinoza, the rest of the teens began to split up to flag other campers for help.

“I think the craziest part about all is literally none of us talk to each other. Immediately, everyone just went and did something to be helpful,” Brenna Miller said.

Zach Petersen (left), Brenna Miller (middle), and James Brown (right)

The group also began to comfort his wife, who was showing symptoms of shock.

“I started talking to her to make sure she was okay because she was kind of showing some shock symptoms,” said Nathan Gillet.

The teens carefully loaded Espinoza into their truck and sped down the canyon.

“We all saw his hands and it was pretty, like loose skin. Yeah. It was just sliding up,” said Brown.

At the hospital, they tried to tell doctors what happened to the stranger. Espinoza also regained some consciousness.

“When we got him out of the car, he was like, ‘What happened?” Peterson said. “We just tell him, you know, ‘You’re okay, man.'”

“This whole time, we don’t know his name. We don’t know anything about them,” Miller added.

(Espinoza family)

Espinoza was transported to the University of Utah hospital, where he’s recovering. The group’s last-minute celebration took them in a direction they never expected.

Espinoza’s family said that had he been taken to the hospital 20 minutes later, it could’ve been a different outcome.

“I think we just did what anyone would have done if they were there,” Miller said.

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Teenagers rush to help Tooele couple after hearing cries for help at campground