Girl almost dies of heat stroke on hottest day of the year

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Brynna Green. 12, nearly died of heat stroke. By Catherine Holland Brynna Green. 12, nearly died of heat stroke. By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- A 12-year old girl who almost died of heat stroke has a warning for other kids about the dangers of playing in the summer sun.

Brynna Green was on a bike ride with her brother and their two friends in the Las Sendas community in East Mesa last Monday afternoon. The mercury hit climbed as high 115 degrees that day, making it the hottest day of the year so far.

"I actually said, 'It's pretty hot out there, are you sure that's a good idea?' They said they were OK," said Brynna's mom, Jennie Green.

The kids set off for what was supposed to be a short bike ride, but their route ended up taking them through a few miles of trails and rocky terrain. The group eventually found themselves lost and heat exhaustion quickly set in. They didn't have any water or a cell phone.

"I just kinda fell down and laid down next to this cactus and tried to slow my breathing," said Lochlin Howey, 13.

Meanwhile, Brynna ditched her bike and began walking on the path to try and catch up with the others who had already made it out to a busy road.

"I wanted to get home and get water and I wanted to get out of the mess that I was in," she said.

But that wouldn't happen for a while; she recalls her last memory before losing consciousness: "Just falling into a bush and kinda crawling away because there was a cactus in front of me and I didn't want to fall into it."

Brynna's older brother, Mason, was able to ride back home where the kids' mothers were waiting. The women never expected to find Brynna like they did.

"I thought she'd be pushing her bike," Green said.

Instead they found the girl having seizures and unresponsive.

"She was laying in the gravel in direct sunlight and she was convulsing," Green recalled.

Working quickly Green and the other boy's mom, Dawn Howey, grabbed Brynna and brought her to the car. Howey poured water on the nearly lifeless girl and put her in front of the air-conditioning vents to try and cool her core temperature, which doctors later said had reached 108 degrees.

"When I found her, I thought she was gone. ... Every doctor who saw her at Cardon [Children's Medical Center] said she had just minutes," Green said.

Brynna was in critical condition when she was taken to the hospital. She spent five days in the ICU. Doctors say she suffered damage to her internal organs and nervous system, and has to be closely monitored for the next year. Potential dangers include seizures and possibly even a heart attack.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, fainting, headache, muscle cramps, nausea, pale skin and profuse sweating. Heat stroke -- what Brynna experienced -- is when the body stops sweating. The victim becomes confused and disoriented and can suffer from seizures.

Brynna says her experience was a wake-up call and although she doesn't plan on riding bikes any time soon, she knows exactly what she'll do differently.

"I'd bring water and a cell phone and an adult."

Heat-related illness generally sets in quickly and can be fatal if not treated. Doctors say the biggest mistake people can make is to ignore the symptoms.

Heat is actually the No. 1 weather-related killer in the United States. It claims more lives each year than tornadoes and hurricanes.