MANATEE — Teo Luciano’s official job at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School is groundskeeper, but the 34-year-old’s passion is driving his golf cart over the massive campus, keeping a protective eye out for the 665 students.
But when a 4-year-old girl with light brown hair, freckles and a fair complexion — and not a student at the school — came up to his golf cart near the gymnasium at about 3 p.m. Nov. 9 and said, “‘Can you help my mom?’ “ Luciano immediately reacted.
Luciano and a Saint Stephen’s parent who was nearby raced to a duplex across the street in the 100 block of 41st Street West where they found Zeniah Gollsneider, mother of the 4-year-old, Kadynce, convulsing on the floor in a pool of blood.
Luciano instructed the unidentified parent to call 911 immediately.
On Monday, Gollsneider was back home from Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, having survived a severe seizure and the resulting head injury that occurred when she fell over. The blood loss was from biting her tongue.
Gollsneider’s story apparently has two heroes, Luciano and her calm and courageous daughter.
Seeing her mother in a seizure, Kadynce had the presence of mind to run across the street for help.
“If it wasn’t for my daughter, I would be dead right now,” Gollsneider said with her voice choking back tears.
It remains unclear what caused the seizure that lasted about four minutes.
Just a week before the incident, Gollsneider sat down with Kadynce and told her what to do in the event of a emergency, which included going to get help.
“I’m so lucky I have a smart daughter,” said Gollsneider. “If we hadn’t had that conversation, maybe she wouldn’t have known what to do.
“I am blessed with a beautiful, healthy child,” Gollsneider said. “I gave her life, but she has already repaid me at age 4 by saving mine.”
“She was totally calm,” Luciano said of Kadynce.
Gollsneider also thanked the firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics who came to her house.
“I want to thank them all,” Gollsneider said. “The firefighters took my food out of the oven where it was cooking and stayed with my daughter.”
Luciano, whose father was from Italy and mother from Puerto Rico, has a 2-year-old daughter, Priscilla and a 1-year-old son, Eric.
“Teo is a very caring person so it doesn’t surprise me that he would help out,” said Jan Pullen, head of school at Saint Stephen’s. “He is friendly and helpful here to all of us.”
On Monday, Kadynce had some news for her mom.
“She asked me, ‘Mommy, can I get a toy, because I’m a hero,’ ”Gollsneider said. “I laughed and told her, ‘Yes, you can.’ ”
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.