Were it not for the kindness and prompt action of a Canoga Park supermarket clerk, Flora Buchler figures she would not be alive today.
Buchler, a 40-year-old asthmatic, began having trouble breathing earlier this month during her regular walk to the Alpha Beta grocery store at Saticoy Street and Winnetka Avenue. Her breathing worsened in the store, and finally Buchler slumped against the cool counter of the delicatessen and asked if someone could drive her home.
Clerk Valerie Jacoby, 31, volunteered.
By the time they reached Jacoby's car, Buchler could not speak, and her breathing was becoming more and more irregular.
"She wasn't talking," Jacoby recalled Friday. "She was just pointing directions to me."
Buchler bolted from the car when the two arrived at her house, about a half-mile away, and headed upstairs to the medicine she thought would help her breathe. It was the last thing she remembers from that Sept. 16 afternoon.
Jacoby followed and found Buchler fumbling with a machine that dispenses the medicine. Before she could operate it, however, Buchler fell to her knees and gasped even harder for air.