Nurse: 'I just took off running' to help Tripp Halstead

WINDER, Ga. — Monday's high winds brought on by Superstorm Sandy are to blame for blowing down a large tree limb which struck 2-year-old Tripp Halstead in the head, severely injuring him.

Ever since then, the boy has been in a hospital battling for his for life.

Tripp's parents are crediting a nearby nurse who tended to Tripp before paramedics arrived with him surviving as long as he has.

That nurse, Lee Perkins, sat down with Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh to talk about the incident Friday.

Perkins owns a business next door to the Winder day care that Tripp attended when the accident happened. She told Kavanaugh Friday that she was finally strong enough to talk about Tripp's accident.

She said he doesn't know Tripp, but she knew he was in desperate need of help Monday morning.

"I just took off running," Lee said.

Co-worker Lori Wall said she heard the tree limb snap, then the calls for help.

"So I ran over to the window, and as I looked out, I could see little Tripp on the ground there and then the other children and the teacher screaming, running towards him," Wall said.

Wall said she immediately called Perkins, who spent eight years as a nurse in an intensive car unit, and Perkins said her instincts kicked in.

"I knew he had a brain injury based on his eyes. The way they were, appeared," Perkins said.

She said when she found Tripp, he was flat on his back inside the play area. The 10-foot tree limb leaned on a fence, dangling above his head.

"There was an element of fear because I don't want to injure him, because I don't know how to take [care] of [a] pediatric patient," Perkins said.

But she knew the basic principles of CPR apply to anyone. So she gently turned him on his side.

"I just kind of patted and rubbed his spine pretty hard. He opened his mouth and took a big breath," Perkins said.

She said she then began CPR

"My husband had gotten my stethoscope, and I could hear that he had a good heart beat, he had good breath sounds, and that's about the time EMS (emergency medical services) got there," Perkins said.

Tripp's family said Perkins is a hero. Perkins said she's just one of many helping Tripp.

"It's a team effort, it really is. Everybody is the reason Tripp is here," Perkins said.

Perkins visited Tripp and his family at Children's Healthcare at Egleston on Thursday.

She said she needed some closure. Perkins also wanted to bring some cupcakes to the nurses who are working with Tripp every day.

Ever since Channel 2 Action News reported what happened to Tripp, members of the community have been stepping up and asking how they can help.

The owners of the salon where Tripp gets his hair cut are now organizing a fundraiser to help Tripp and his family.

"So our main focus is to help pull together so they can make their bills, their mortgage, their utilities," said Kristie Keme, who manages Whata Cutie Cuts in Buford.

She said the staff at the salon immediately began planning a fundraiser once they learned what happened to Tripp.

"I just know that if that was my son, somebody would help me out," Keme said.


On Nov. 10, the salon plans to donate half of the proceeds from all haircuts to the Halstead family, plus proceeds from a bake sale and auction.

Volunteers are already stepping up.

"When I saw Tripp's story, it really hit home because I've been in their shoes," parent Lauren Long said.

She said it wasn't long ago she was at Children's Healthcare with her son, Carson, who was diagnosed with a rare cancer at just 7 months old.

She plans to donate artwork to the fundraiser and to Tripp.

"I'll be making a big 16x20 canvas of Lightning McQueen, because I hear he's in love with Lightning McQueen," Long said.

The character from "Cars" is Tripp's favorite and, even in the hospital, is with him at all times.

Anyone who wants more information about the fundraiser is asked to call 770-271-1990 or email tina@whatacutiecuts.com.