2.25pm - 2.30pm Gingers picks up the intercom phone and calls downstairs. Pauline, the cook answers, Ginger asks her who is on duty, the maid says that Al is here and passes the phone to Al. "Al, could you come up, I think there's something wrong with Elvis." Ginger goes towards the stairs to meet Al, she blurts out, "I think something’s really wrong with Elvis! Come and look at him.." she follows Al back into the bathroom. Al took one look at Elvis grabbed the phone saying "Lemme get Joe up here... Joe, I need your help, Elvis has collapsed." Joe Esposito charged up the stairs and ran into the bathroom. He'd seen Elvis in similar situations before and prepared himself to bring Elvis around. As Joe turned Elvis over onto his back, he heard the air which had been trapped in Elvis' lungs exhale itself creating the impression that Elvis may still have been breathing. But the knees stayed in place as if Elvis were trying to touch his chin with them. This along with the appearance of Elvis' face, with his tongue partly protruding from his mouth and with his teeth set into the tongue, the blood filled head giving a blue purple complexion and the eyes totally blood shot made Joe leap for the phone.
2.32pm He got an outside line, tapped the emergency number in and explained that someone was having difficulty breathing at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard. He directed the services to come straight through the gates and up to the front door of the house. Joe begins to try and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.) but his attempts are based on an instinct, as he had never been trained
2.33pm An ambulance is despatched from Unit Six of the Memphis fire Department based at Engine house no.29 in Whitehaven. Paramedics, Charles Crosby and Ulysses Jones, drove to the postal address they had been given. They knew 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard was Graceland as they had been called previously to attend to Vernon’s heart attack and prepared themselves for the same scenario.
2.33pm - 2.41pm Whilst Joe is continuing the CPR he's telling Al to make calls on the phone. In what order the calls were made is not clear. One of the calls would be down to the gate to tell Elvis' Uncle Vester to have the gates open and ready for the ambulance when it arrives. Other calls were made to try and locate Dr Nicopolous. Dr Nicolpolous was at Doctors' hospital, which was five miles away, the operator told Al she would page Dr Nick on his beeper and advised Al Strada to keep the phone line open. Then he tried to reach Dr. Perry Holmes, a local Whitehaven physician who they had called in the past for minor complaints. Learning that Dr Holmes was also out of his office Al slammed the phone down in frustration. The frustration was being caused by the fact that they were not getting very far, or to put it another way, frustrated that they were not Taking Care Of Business, even though they were doing all they could, their personal perception was that things weren't happening at all. Moments later Dr James Campbell, an associate of Dr Holmes, called back after his receptionist informed him of Al's call. Aunt Delta answered the call and informed Dr Campbell that her nephew was experiencing difficulty in breathing and could he come to the house immediately. Dr Campbell advised Aunt Delta to bring Elvis to his office. As the panic continued in the bathroom, one by one people had made their way up the stairs. Vernon arrived escorted by Patsy Gamble and started wailing, "Son, don't die! Son, don't leave!" Charlie Hodge ran upstairs and when he arrived he knelt down by Elvis and shouted at him, "Breath, Elvis, breathe!" Ginger had been standing there scared and not knowing what she could do to help when she heard Lisa’s voice saying, "What's wrong? What's wrong with my Daddy?" Ginger reached down to pick her up saying, "Nothings wrong," but Lisa evaded her and darted off towards the other door yelling, "Something’s wrong with my Daddy and I'm going to find out." Ginger yelled, "Al! Lisa’s trying to get in!" Al Strada reached across and threw the lock on the bathroom door.
2.40pm The ambulance swings in to Graceland and Uncle Vester motions for them to go on up to the house. The ambulance pulls up outside the front and the two paramedics run up the steps where they are met by another of the staff and told, "He's upstairs and I think it's an OD." The paramedics run up the stairs and enter the bathroom, their approach unheard by those around Elvis. Pushing past those that had gathered, the two men don't recognise the victim. Ulysses Jones kneels down besides Elvis and checked for a pulse, then shines a light in one of his eyes. No pulse and no flicker and his body is cold, unusually cold. A voice amongst various cries and weeping asked, "Is there anything you can do?" Jones was unable to give an answer. David Stanley suddenly says, "I think he OD'd." That was now the second time that that had been mentioned. Whilst the paramedics continued with their procedure, Dr nick gets in touch with Joe Esposito on the phone. After hearing Elvis exhale when he found him, Joe informs Dr Nick that he thinks Elvis is still breathing. Ulysses Jones opened Elvis mouth and cleared an airway by inserting a tube down Elvis' throat and the other end of the tube was connected to a bag, which he gave to the nearest man and told him to squeeze. The stretcher was placed on the floor next to Elvis. Charles Crosby, the other paramedic, recalls, "It took five of us to lift him onto a stretcher. He must have weighed two hundred fifty pounds. Elvis lay on the stretcher, his pyjama top unbuttoned from the CPR and a necklace showing was lifted off the ground and the men manoeuvred the stretcher around the corners and down the stairs. Vernon tried to follow crying hard and calling out behind the tears, "Son, I'm coming... I'll be there... I'll be meeting you there!" Vernon was restrained by two of the guys from going any further.
The paramedics place the stretcher into the back of the ambulance, Dr George Nicopolous drives through the gates and up the driveway in his green Mercedes and comes to a stop just as the ambulance is about to pull away. He gets out of his car and runs over to the ambulance and jumps into the back. Ginger had felt that she should go in the ambulance but just as she had summoned up the resolve to go she saw the door of the ambulance slam shut. aunt Nashville came up to her and put her arm around her and said, "He's going to be all right, he's got so much to live for." In the back of the ambulance and with a fear on his face that the seemingly impossible has just been realised Dr Nick shouts at Elvis, "Breathe Elvis, breathe for me, come on Elvis, BREATHE!" as he begins to massage Elvis heart.
2.48pm The ambulance clears the gates at Graceland and swings to the right into the road and head for the Baptist Memorial Hospital reaching speeds of 80mph.
2.50pm - 2.55pm A call goes out on the hospital PA system, "Harvey Team report to ER, ...Harvey Team report to ER"
2.55pm Ambulance arrives at the Baptist Memorial Hospital. Elvis is wheeled into the hospital on the stretched. Joe Esposito and Charlie Hodge follow Elvis into Trauma Room one and are then ushered out to wait in Trauma Room two. Elvis' naked body lay on the surgical table and was covered with monitoring electrodes, and injected with powerful stimulants. Oxygen was forced into Elvis and desperate attempts were made to get his heart pumping. Dr Nick has since said that the ECG monitor registered the heart beating a couple of times but this was probably the muscle reaction to the electrical charges placed on it. But it was a considerable feat to achieve this considering the body had been in a state of rigor mortis for a few hours.
A note from Jordan on this:
This is quite common infact in resucitations. It is known as "PEA" or Pulseless Electrical Activity. I just responded to a "Harvey" this past friday morning with the same scenerio (woman was obviously dead, but had PEA).. Anyway, Your heart has some electrical activity (most commonly caused by epinephrine being injected to "Jump start" the heart, or by other unnatural methods. But, it is not strong enough to cause the heart to "Beat", but strong enough to register on the very sensitive ECG monitors.
There was nothing more anyone could do.
Marion Cocke saw that the desperation was growing ever more stronger to get Elvis back to life and her sense intervened when she pleaded with them to stop. The body was being jolted up and down in a battle, which would never be won, and she knew enough was enough.
Back at Graceland Vernon, Sandy, Aunt Delta, Aunt Nashville and others wandered into Minnie Mae's room and began to pray for Elvis. Tish Henley would have advised Dr Nick earlier on about the additional prescription Elvis had had made up and delivered by her husband.
With the call going to Dr Nick at his surgery by Joe and Dr Nicks returned call back to Graceland, Tish Henley may have got concerned as to what was going on and called her husband.
Whether anything was gleaned from such a conversation is unknown, but after the paramedics had gone the big clean up began.
Ricky Stanley says in the Book, "The Elvis Encyclopedia," that he was in the bathroom when the body was turned over. He was not. Ricky Stanley was unavailable a little earlier and was officially off duty.
When the body was turned over there was only Joe and Al there with Ginger observing.
In any interviews for books or appearances on video, no one has ever mentioned Ricky Stanley being there when the body was turned over.
I don't think Ricky entered the room until later, maybe whilst Elvis was still laying there, maybe not.
But, by his own admission, he cleaned the bathroom of all traces of medication. Everything.Under whose instructions this came and when those instructions were issued I cannot place yet.
When the detectives turned up there was not even a standard bottle of asprin to be found.
The bathroom had been given a complete makeover.
Even the carpet was scrubbed to remove the vomit, which would have contained vital information within it.
In the video / DVD, "Ultimate Elvis 2," Charlie Hodge says he was in the kitchen reading a newspaper when Vernon walked in on the arm of Patsy Gamble.
He says he thought he heard them laughing, but when he turned to look he saw the were crying and immediately ran upstairs.
But Vernon hadn't come downstairs. Vernon followed the stretcher out of the bathroom wailing "I'm coming son....I'll be there!"
This would mean Charlie was never in the bathroom at all and that the first he knew of anything was after Elvis had gone when Vernon and Patsy came back downstaris, or, he has no proper recollection of what happened.
Charlie Hodge had to have been upstairs to be one of the ones that helped carry the stretcher outside and to also get in the ambulance to go to the hospital.
With all the commotion going on I just do not understand how he could have remained oblivious to it all whilst reading the newspaper.
3.30pm Back at the hospital Dr Nick walked from room one and into the adjacent room where Charlie and Joe were waiting, any hopes they had been holding onto were dashed when they looked at Dr Nick and saw his head shaking.
"It's all over, he's gone. There is nothing we can do.....we tried." Some of the conversation Charlie and Joe had had was centered on a potentially worse outcome. They knew how long at least Elvis had been without oxygen and if he were to be revived his brain would be no more than a vegetable.
3.30pm - 3.45pm Charlie was beside himself, he went to leave the room but Joe stopped him. Through his own tears he told Charlie that they had to be composed before they faced anyone. A few minutes later Marion Cocke emerged from room one with a bag in which she had placed Elvis' pyjamas, his rings, necklace and bracelet. She gave the bag to Dr Nick.
Dr Nick asked Maurice Elliot if he could wait until he had told Vernon and the family before the hospital made any announcement to the press. Elliot said he would, though the media had started assembling on mass since the first reports were heard over the emergency frequency. Joe asked Maurice if he could use his office to make some calls and was told he could. Dr Nick and Maurice agreed that Dr Nick should take an autopsy consent form back for Vernon to sign in order that it could be a private autopsy and the contents of which would be in the control of the family to divulge leaving the state coroners office without any involvement. Dr Nick sought out Charles Crosby and Ulysses Jones and asked if they would take him back to Graceland and wait whilst they saw how Vernon coped with the news. Joe went into Maurices office and closed the door. His first call was to the Colonel. To Joe the Colonels reaction was impossible to read except for the initial stunned silence. Then the Colonel began to reel off a list of things that would have to be done, the first would be to officially cancel the tour. Joe told the Colonel that he would call him back as soon as he got back to Graceland. For now Joe was going to stay at the hospital and wait for Dr Nicks call once Dr Nick had told Vernon. Joe called Priscilla next who received the news with the expected shock and between the tears managed to ask how Lisa was coping.
3.45pm - 4.00pm Dr Nick arrives back at Graceland with the paramedics. Vernon was in the Jungle Room when Dr nick walked in.
As soon as he saw the bag Dr Nick was carrying he froze and then cried out, "Oh, no, no, no..." "I'm sorry.." Dr Nick said, Vernon wailed, "What am I gonna do... Everything I have is gone..." Vernon was not alone in displaying his grief in this way, everyone was moving around crying, wailing, screaming, moaning and feeling helpless. This is where I personally believe the ultimate act of TCB began.
Dr Nick may well have been more informed before he arrived at Graceland, after being given some information at his practice.
Though not armed with all the facts, his instincts may have made him on his guard and could be the reason why he persuaded Maurice Elliot to agree to let him take an autopsy consent form back for Vernon to sign.
When Dr Nick was briefed he was concerned about Joe and Charlie at the hospital. They needed to be bought up to speed and quickly.
But Dr Nick was also concerned about Vernon and it was his priority at that moment to make sure Vernon was stable enough.
The hospital switchboard was jammed anyway, whether anyone tried to call it or not.
Dr Nick could well have enlisted Billy Smith and David Stanley to go over to the hospital and inform Joe and Charlie of what had happened and that no mention was to be made to the press or the media about any of the details which may cause someone to look to closely.
Another reason, or an additional one, may have been that they were taking with them the autopsy consent form after Dr Nick had Vernon sign it.
Thus the beginnings of what was to end up being the "heart attack" story began.
A strange story was seldom told over the years that followed. I cannot remember who told it, and if they did whether they only ever got ot say it the once, but I know I've heard it and it centers around something Vernon was wailing out: "They killed my son....they killed him."
Who "they" are to Vernon at the time he alledgedly said it is unknown. It could have been a metaphor for anyone, the pills, the fans, anything.
4.00pm approx Sam Thompson was being driven to Graceland by his father. As they turn into Graceland they see a car coming toward them. This was being driven by David Stanley. They slow up and Sam believes he mishears what David says to him, thinking it sounded like, "Have you heard? Elvis has died." Sam was being dropped off by his father as Sam was getting a lift from Graceland, along with Lisa Marie, to the airport to take her back to Priscilla. When Sam saw the ambulance he figured it was for Vernon and that that was what David must have called out to him. When Sam walked into the house he found Vernon in the Jungle Room crying. Sam paused for a moment and then stepped into the room and Vernon looked up and said, "Is that you Sam? You come to pick up Lisa? Well there's no need.... my boy is dead." Vernon was shaking and trembling and Dr Nick took him into the kitchen where he tried to calm Vernon down and establish that the shock was not going to give cause for a heart scare and to obtain his signature on the autopsy consent form. It is quite possible that Vernon was given some medication at this point because he was able to be a little calmer very shortly. Lisa got on the phone and called Linda Thompson to tell her. Linda was shocked and hoped that Lisa had misheard what she was telling Linda. Sam picked the phone up and told his sister that it was all true and that sh’e better come back to Memphis. Whilst the paramedics stood by, Dr Nick called Maurice Elliot at the hospital to give the go ahead to inform the press. Maurice told Joe that Dr Nick had called.
David Stanley arrives at the hospital along with Billy Smith.
When it came to facing the press Joe struggled to speak, Charlie’s attempts were no better and Maurice Elliot had the dawning realisation that it was then down to him to tell the world that Elvis Presley was dead.
The News Headlines
"DEATH CAPTURES CROWN OF ROCK AND ROLL" - The Commercial Appeal - "The ambulance hit the gate as it was going in [to Graceland] ... There was severe cardiovascular disease present ... Dr. Fransisco said ... there was no indication of drug abuse of any kind. He said the only evidence of drugs involved those Presley was taking for his physical condition ..."
August 17 - Elvis was to have begun another tour, starting with a concert in Portland, Maine
BRITISH COVERAGE OF DEATH
ED PARKER TALKS
THE PINK PARKER