Outcome to remember; Woman honored for saving lives of her neighbors

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Connie Hoveland knew, too late, that something was terribly wrong.

“At first, I thought I was having a stroke,” she said.

What she did not realize immediately was that her system was being overcome by toxic — and deadly — carbon monoxide fumes, being emitted from a faulty boiler on Jan. 30 in her home on 15th Avenue Southwest in Austin.

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Worse yet, her 7-year-old granddaughter was also being affected.

“I remember telling her to lay down on the couch,” Hoveland said, and after that, she remembers very little.

But her friend and carpool partner, Angela Harty, knew something was wrong, too — and ended up saving the lives of Hoveland and her granddaughter, Clara McIntyre.

On Monday, Harty was honored by the Austin Police Department at the Austin City Council meeting. Police Chief Brian Krueger presented Harty with a letter of “gratitude and appreciation for your heroic actions” from the police department, fire department, mayor and council. Harty accepted the honor amid applause from the council members and city staff.

Both Hoveland and Clara were both on hand to add their hearty applause, as well as their family.

Harty said before the ceremony that Hoveland’s break in routine signaled that something was wrong at the Hoveland home that morning.

Harty and Hoveland shared duties taking Clara and Harty’s daughter, Reagan, also 7, to nearby Southgate Elementary School. When Harty arrived at the home to pick up Clara, she sent Reagan to the door.

When Reagan returned to the car, she told her mom that Clara, who answered the door, said she and her grandmother were sick and feeling dizzy.

“Connie would always call me if she was sick,” Harty said. “I knew when she didn’t call that something was wrong.” The fact that Hoveland did not come to the door made her even more uneasy.

She took her daughter to school, quizzing her on the way about what Clara said. After dropping Reagan off, she tried calling Hoveland and there was no answer. Sure now that the woman and her granddaughter might be suffering carbon monoxide poisoning, she made the decision to call 911 even before she found her way back to the Hoveland house.

Her worst fears were realized when she entered the house. Hoveland was not coherent and Clara, still on the couch, was getting lethargic. Harty got Clara outside and then enlisted the help of her husband, Patrick, to help her move Hoveland from the home. Soon, Lt. John Mueller and Officer Ryan Leif were on hand to help. Both Clara and her grandmother were found to have carbon monoxide in their systems.

Thanks to Harty, they recovered.

“This comes with a lot of different emotions; if I think about what could have happened … it just can make you crazy,” said Harty. “So we have been focusing instead on the outcome and the awareness [for others about carbon monoxide].”

Hoveland praised her friend’s actions, as did Krueger’s letter.

“If you had not recognized the unusual symptoms and acted on them, this incident would have most likely had a very different and possibly tragic outcome,” Krueger read during the presentation. “You likely saved the lives of both these people. Your community appreciates what you did.”