An 18-month-old girl died Monday night after apparently choking to death in Center.

San Augustine County Justice of the Peace Adris Mosby pronounced Edith Gonzales dead at a San Augustine hospital.

Center resident Charles Bush posted on his Facebook page that he was at CVS in Center around 9 p.m. when he watched Edith’s grandfather springing from his car and seeking help for his choking granddaughter in the vehicle outside.

“The grandfather pulled in, and he was absolutely frantic, so I knew something was wrong,” Bush said.

Even though Bush could not understand the Spanish-speaking man, he jumped into action to help him. After a short conversation, he realized that the man was concerned about his granddaughter, Edith Gonzales.

“She was bleeding from her mouth and choking,” Bush said. “We found out later that it was a grape.”

Bush said he dialed 911 but was told there was not an ambulance available; the four units on duty were all on calls. He said a deputy with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and officers with Center police arrived at CVS and attempted to help her breathe.

The deputy took Edith in his car and met an ambulance in town around 9:05 p.m. The ambulance arrived at a San Augustine hospital around 9:45 p.m. and Edith was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m.

Bush posted his message on Facebook because he was concerned that if there was a hospital in Center, Edith may still be alive.

Three ambulances were on call Monday night and and all were on calls when the 911 call came in, said ACE EMS director Jessie Griffith.

Griffith said that not having a medical center in Center makes response times on calls even longer than before.

“You make patient contact. You do some treatment on scene,” Griffith said. “You transport to say Nacogdoches. You get there, do a patient report and turn the patient over to the nurses and by the time they get back in the county, you are looking at a least an hour and a half.”

Shelby Regional Medical Center shut down in July after the owner was unable to meet Medicare and Medicaid guidelines and could not stay open.

The incident hit close to home for Bush.

“What happens if my kids are at home, and I need medical attention?” Bush said. “What happens if I’m working, and my wife and kids need medical attention?”

However, even though Bush is upset that the Shelby Regional Medical Center closed in July, he knows that the emergency personnel on the scene did all they could for Edith.

“They were performing way outside their pay grade and I don’t even blame the local EMS or ambulances. They cover everything,” Bush said. “They do a great service to our community, but logistics are that you can only be so many places at one time.”

Nacogdoches Medical Center has announced plans to open an emergency room in Center.

East Texas News reached out to the Center Police Department for a comment on the incident, but were told a press release would not be available until tomorrow.

Caleb Beames

 KTRE News