Close call: Mother warns of unexpected danger around grills

BROWNSVILLE — One little piece of barbecue chicken led to what Pamela McCumber describes as “10 hours of hell” for her family.

On April 29, the McCumber family picked up some chicken. A few moments after their 6-year-old son, Colt, took his first bite, he complained that something was wrong.

“We thought he was choking at first, so my husband automatically took him to the bathroom and tried to get it out,” Pamela said. “We thought it was a bone.”

When they took Colt to the doctor, they learned it was something metal.

Colt could breathe but could not swallow well. The doctors had to be careful with what painkiller they used because of his age.

The incident happened on a Saturday, and there was not a pediatrician on call in Brownsville, Pamela said.

“They had to send us to Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus (Christi),” Pamela said. “That in itself was terrifying.”

Colt rode to the hospital in an ambulance. He handled the situation well, his mother said.

“He did really, really well. It was an adventure for him, and the crew was amazing,” Pamela said.

He was in the operating room at midnight. Pamela kept a picture of the culprit: a thin but sharp piece of wire that had come off a grill-cleaning brush.

“It seems silly if you think about it, but really the whole aftermath was not … from what they told us at Driscoll, it could’ve been lodged in his lung, and then he would’ve needed major surgery,” Pamela said.

The doctors told Pamela that it was the first time they had seen that sort of case in a child, she said.

Prior to the incident, she had never heard of this happening. Afterward, she received emails from a few people about cases involving loose brush wire.

That was when she decided she wanted to inform the community of the danger.

“I know it’s going to be summertime and people will be barbecuing a lot, so just be careful with those brushes or check the grill,” Pamela said.

“It’s a little thing, but it can turn out to be a big mess.”