On New Year’s Eve, Ashley Whitlock anticipated going home at 10 p.m., once her shift ended at the Quality Inn & Suites in Sequim.
The 30-year-old assistant manager said it was a typical day with little to no drama. But a series of phone calls led her to help a new friend and try to help save someone’s life.
After coming back from a break, Whitlock received a call from Nanett Pool, who had been staying with her husband Jeffrey for about three months at the hotel as he received treatment at the Olympic Medical Cancer Center.
“She seemed frantic,” Whitlock said. “(The couple) had gotten to know us and I recognized her voice.”
Whitlock asked her coworker Deb Johnson to check on Nanett.
“She called again, saying, ‘There’s something wrong with him,’” Whitlock recalled.
“(Over the phone) I heard (Johnson) knock on the door and she let her in. I ran up the stairs and saw him laying on the ground, gasping for air.”
Using her training she received while working as a preschool teacher at Peninsula College, where she works part-time, Whitlock began performing CPR.
She estimated she used the technique for 3-5 minutes before paramedics took over.
“To be honest, it was a blur,” Whitlock said. “I know the paramedics tried everything they could.”
Nanett had called for assistance other times, but Whitlock said she could tell “it was the worst.”
Jeffrey Pool died at age 56 from an aggressive lung cancer, his wife said. He had spent most of his adult life disabled from psoriasis.
The coupled moved to the Sequim area in the summer of 2011, Nanett said, with Jeffrey spending most of his life on the peninsula.
“He was soft, kind and peaceful,” Nanett said. “You’d be drawn to him the minute you met him.”
In the three months the Pools stayed at the inn, Whitlock said, she befriended the couple, and on the night of Jeffrey’s death she stayed with Nanett in a different hotel room.
“I finished my shift but I didn’t want her to be alone,” Whitlock said.
“We talked a little bit. She expressed how she was feeling. I couldn’t fall asleep until after 1 a.m.”
Whitlock said she felt like staying with Nanett was “the right thing to do.”
“If it was me, I would want someone to hold me and tell me it’s going to be OK,” she said.
Nanett said she “built a bond past friendship” with Whitlock and other hotel staff.
“They helped us out in a lot of ways.”
Nanett moved into a new home on Jan. 1, and said she doesn’t have any plans other than “trying to get by.”
Whitlock said she thinks “about the whole thing beginning to end all the time,” and she checks in with Nanette.
Ashley established an online fundraising account seeking $3,000 through gofundme to help pay for Jeffrey’s funeral expenses at www.gofundme.com/f/help-nanett-pay-for-funeral-expenses.
“Ashley, with no regard to her own personal safety, focused on trying to save a life of one of our guests,” Quality Inn owner Bret Wirta said.
“She is a brave young lady,” he said. “I can’t think of no higher example of customer service than that.”
Whitlock has lived in the area for about 12 years and works part-time at the hotel with her mom Nancy Merrigan, Quality Inn’s general manager, her dad Kevin Merrigan, the hotel’s maintenance ambassador, and sister Kyisha Irwin.