Siri Saves Sick Teen From Harvey Floodwaters

September 5, 2017
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14-year-old Tyler Frank tried desperately to think of ways to get herself and her family to safety while they were stranded outside in the rising waters of Hurricane Harvey. The teen was feverish and in great pain.

Calling 911 didn’t work and Begging for help on Facebook and Instagram failed, too.

“I was like, ‘Siri’s smart enough! Let me ask her!’ ” Tyler said.

With just one inquiry to the Apple personal assistant — “Siri, call the Coast Guard” — Tyler got her entire family rescued after two days out in the storm.

Tyler has a genetic disorder which is called sickle cell anemia. When Harvey hit, the teen suffered a sickle cell crisis, as her stiff and oddly shaped red blood cells clogged up her blood vessels which prevented oxygen from reaching parts of her body.

The pain of a sickle cell crisis can be described as worse than the pain of childbirth.

Trauma or exposure to cold can actually trigger a crisis, according to Dr. Titilope Fasipe, Tyler’s hematologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. And Tyler suffered both.

In the early morning hours of August 27, Tyler, her Mom and three of her brothers woke up to find water in their home up to Tyler’s chest. Soon, the water was almost over her head.

Tyler’s oldest brother, Joseph, 18, then carried her on his back to the roof. Her next oldest brother, Brayland, 16, carried their youngest brother, Jaquarus, 8, on his back.

Tyler had only a towel to protect her and then the towel got wet.

This is when she thought of asking Siri to connect her to the Coast Guard. She gave the man on the other end of the line her family’s location and she explained that she was sick and scared for her life.

The man said to Tyler that she was a brave “guy.”

“I was like, ‘I’m a girl!’ And he was like, ‘oh, you’re one brave girl.’ And I was like, ‘thank you!’ “ she said.

A Coast Guard helicopter arrived the following afternoon.

Tyler’s Mom, Tameko Frank, recorded the scene on Facebook Live where one of the rescuers descended from the helicopter and spoke with her. She said that he asked whether anyone was sick and by this time, Tyler had a 103-degree fever.

I told him yes, I have a child with sickle cell, and she’s very sick, and I need you all to take her,” Frank said.

She said the rescuer told her he was taking only elderly people, and he would come back for others.

“She was standing right there in front of him. And he turned around and got on the helicopter and left,” Frank said.

As she watched the helicopter take off, Tyler said, that she felt abandoned.

“Why did they leave when we really need them?” she said. “It made me cry.”

In a statement, the Coast Guard said, “Coast Guard first responders were faced with an overwhelming request for assistance due to Hurricane Harvey. On-scene rescue crews made determinations based upon emergent factors (i.e. immediate, life-threatening situations) and the conditions faced on the scene.”

Tyler was undeterred. She again called the Coast Guard number Siri had given her.

The following morning, a helicopter landed, and this time it took her to safety and again, her mother posted it on Facebook Live.

Tyler was first seen by doctors in Pasadena, Texas, and was then sent on to Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston. From there, the teen went by ambulance to Texas Children’s Hospital, where Tyler has been treated since she was a baby.

Besides withstanding two days in the rain and two helicopter trips while sick and feverish, the teen has been in and out of the hospital all her life. At the age 3, she had her spleen removed, and she’s had six blood transfusions, the first when she was just 6 months old.

She was discharged from the hospital on Friday, she and her mother and four brothers — 15-year-old Brayveon wasn’t at home when the storm hit — are sharing one room at a Super 8 hotel off a Houston highway.

Sadly, they have no place to live and no clothes except what’s been donated to them.

Our car is gone; our house is gone; everything’s gone,” Frank said. “We have to start over.”


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