ER wedding memorable for bride, groom, North Huntingdon EMS
Rob Leuthold knows there are few stories in his line of work that he would consider telling his children.
But the North Huntingdon EMS/Rescue paramedic has one now.
Leuthold and emergency medical technician Beth Walter responded to a call shortly after 6:15 p.m. April 25 at the Jacktown Ride and Hunt Club, where Robert J. Adams was suffering from an anxiety attack — 15 minutes before he was to wed his fiancée, Mary Pizzuto.
“When we arrived, we evaluated him and felt he needed to go to the hospital,” Leuthold said. “But he was adamant about not going because he was about to get married.”
While driving to the club, Adams, 69, was breathless, sweating profusely and felt tightness in his chest.
“I thought it might be the suit and tie because I never wear one,” Adams said. Pizzuto said she thought Adams was suffering from “nerves.”
After Adams arrived at the club, friends and family called 911.
Adams said he did not want to miss the opportunity to marry Pizzuto, 68.
“I originally said, ‘Nope.' I wanted to go ahead with the ceremony first,” said Adams, who has had heart surgery before. “She gave everything up for me.”
Pizzuto, who had not been married before, was a friend of Adams' first wife. The newlyweds reconnected about 18 months ago on Facebook after Adams' second wife died of cancer.
“We hadn't been in contact for 36 years before that,” Adams said. “She (Pizzuto) helped me after my second wife's death.”
After some coaxing at the club, Adams agreed to allow Leuthold and Walter to transport him to Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville with his fiancée riding in the front of the ambulance.
But before leaving for the hospital, Adams asked the Rev. John Gropp, who was scheduled to perform the ceremony, to come along.
“He said that was no problem because it was on his way home to Duquesne,” Adams said.
Once he was evaluated and stabilized in the hospital emergency room, the couple decided to proceed with the ceremony.
The new Mrs. Adams said she had no qualms about being married in a hospital.
“It really doesn't matter where it takes place. It is for better or for worse,” she said.
But as she, Gropp and a handful of family members stood next to Adams' gurney with the medical staff looking on, the groom felt it might help to lighten the mood.
“I reminded the pastor we weren't there for last rites but marriage vows,” Adams said with a smile as he recuperated at the hospital. “I always like to have a little fun.”
Hospital spokesman Jesse Miller said it was the first wedding ceremony he can recall in the emergency room in his two years at the hospital.
Mary Adams, who is formerly of Monroeville and Pitcairn, said the hospital staff was excited about the no-frills ceremony in the ER.
She said staffers quickly strung together specimen cups to hang as decorations, wrote a congratulatory sign and crafted a bridal bouquet using rubber gloves, drink straws, cardboard and blue paper.
“I'm going to keep it,” she said as she clutched the makeshift bouquet and gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
Adams has been discharged from the hospital, and the newlyweds plan to honeymoon in Las Vegas. They will eventually “go back to the club … and have a little dinner” to celebrate, the Mary Adams said.
Leuthold, who stood at the doorway with Walter while the couple exchanged vows, said the experience will remain a memorable one.
“Unfortunately, there aren't too many happy endings in our business,” he said. “But this was a positive experience and something I'll never forget.”
Paul Peirce and Tony LaRussa are Trib Total Media staff writers. Pierce can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org. LaRussa can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at email@example.com