Local teen awarded for courage

Catherine saved mother's life last year


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— Saturday, March 16, 2013 started like any other Saturday for 18-year-old Catherine Klingener and her family.

Catherine, of Byram, was excited to be competing in a cheer competition at Trenton, N.J. for Northern Elite All Stars Cheer Team.

After traveling in the car for a while with her mother driving to Trenton, it became apparent to Catherine that something was wrong with her mother, Patricia Cozzarelli. Her mother was driving erratically and on the wrong side of the road.

Catherine saw that her mother was perilously close to a telephone pole. Catherine was able to get the car safely stopped.

Catherine called 911 and was able to tell the dispatcher what happened and where she was, even though Catherine had never traveled to this area before. Catherine told dispatch that an officer was running radar not that far back.

Catherine was able to answer the questions of the first responding officers in a calm fashion. The first responding officers had emergency medical technician training and assessed the emergency as a brain bleed or stroke.

An ambulance transported Cozzarelli to an area hospital. There, a cat scan revealed the situation was more critical than first thought and the patient was transported to Capital Health Hospital where she underwent brain surgery.

Catherine remained at the first hospital alone waiting for her father to arrive.

Throughout the ordeal Catherine remained calm and focused and she was able to convey important information.

Without Catherine’s quick thinking and calm demeanor this emergency would have had a different outcome. Catherine’s actions averted a serious motor vehicle accident involving other lives.

Most brain bleeds are fatal, and time is of the utmost importance when trying to save someone with a brain bleed.

On Friday, May 16, Catherine, now 19, received the Civilian Award from the South Brunswick Police Department for saving her mother’s life.

“In March of 2013 Catherine Klingener was the passenger in a car traveling on Route 130 when the driver her mother became unresponsive. The vehicle was still traveling at highway speed. Ms. Klingener called 911, by following the instructions provided to her by PST Zimmer, she was able to maintain her composure and regain control of the vehicle without incident. By bringing the vehicle to a safe stop, she saved her mother’s life as well as her own, and protected the safety of all of the motorists around her,” The certificate states.

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