Jacob Stevens had been manning the bounce house at Cornerstone Assembly church’s Trunks of Treats event on Halloween night, waiting for his turn to use the pumpkin launcher.
The 16-year-old got down on his knees to use the device, which is similar to a slingshot.
“When he let it go, the pumpkin didn’t release and it just recoiled back and hit him in his chest,” his mother Jan Stevens said.
Jan Stevens said her son was hit “at the right spot, at the right force and at the right cycle of his heartbeat” to cause his heart to stop.
Hall County Fire Services and Oakwood Police responded and took Jacob from the Flowery Branch church to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in critical condition. Five days later, Jacob is still in critical, but stable, condition at the hospital.
How to help
Donations can be made on GoFundMe to help Jacob Stevens and his family.
That night, one of Jacob’s youth leaders, Preston Fowler, who had learned CPR through his work at Tallulah Falls School, came to his aid.
“I saw him go down and realized something was wrong. I immediately went to check on him, and then as the situation progressed, the need for CPR became apparent,” Fowler said.
Jacob’s mother estimated there were roughly 75 people in the waiting room the first night. Seeing the community come together to help in a time of crisis has been “heartwarming,” Jan Stevens said.
As of 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, the community had raised $6,870 for the family through a Gofundme page.
The church and Katie Boswell, the fundraising account administrator, have posted periodic updates for those concerned about Jacob’s well-being.
“Jacob is a fun 16-year-old who loves his friends and is passionate about music and playing guitar. He loves to write and is known for poetry. His friends call him a comedian and just an all-around good kid, who loves God,” according to the Gofundme page.
Michael Stevens, Jacob’s father, wrapped Fowler in a big embrace for his help at the scene.
“It made all the difference in our son’s life. He wouldn’t be here now if Preston had not done that,” Jan Stevens said.