Deputy who saved newborn: 'God put me in the right place at the right time'

When a South Carolina deputy pulled over a speeding vehicle, he didn't realize that he would end up saving a life.

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By Kerry Breen

An officer who resuscitated a 12-day-old baby during a traffic stop last month said that he believes that God put him in the right place at the right time.

Deputy William Kimbro and his partner pulled over a speeding car just before 1:00 p.m. on June 11 in Berkeley, South Carolina.

"I was on patrol... when I conducted a traffic stop for a vehicle exceeding the speed limit," said Kimbro in a statement that he provided to TODAY Parents. "Before I could reach the vehicle, the driver exited the car and told me a baby was not breathing."

The baby's mother, Kemira Boyd, 23, told TODAY that she had breastfed and burped the baby about a half an hour prior to the incident. While the baby was sleeping, she left the child under the supervision of the child's grandmother, Tammy Boyd, 55, and took a shower.

"I was in the shower for about fifteen minutes when I heard a banging on the door," Kemira said. "She said 'She's choking.' I rushed out of the shower and she was patting the baby on the back but it wasn't working. I'd been told to raise their arm when babies are choking so I tried that but she still was hesitating to breathing. There was water coming out of her eyes so we just jumped in the car. And we were speeding, so an officer pulled us over as soon as we were leaving the neighborhood."

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According to the police report, which was provided by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, Tammy Boyd was driving, while Kemira sat in the seat passenger seat with the baby. Once pulled over, Tammy Boyd approached the officer's vehicle and said that the baby was not breathing, and then asked for a ride to a medical facility. Kimbro asked where the baby was.

"Although I was indeed shocked, I knew I needed to remain calm," Kimbro said. "At that moment, my training kicked in and I went to work to keep the baby alive. My first thought was to make sure that the baby began to breathe again."

While his partner notified the department's dispatcher and requested emergency medical services, Kimbro approached the baby and Kemira Boyd, who were still in the car. He noted that the baby was "turning blue" and immediately went to work to save her life.

According to the police report, Kimbro determined that there were no breathing sounds, and that the 12-day-old's pulse was weak. He began "strong sternum rubs" on the baby's chest, but the infant's lips were turning blue and she was still unresponsive. When Kemira Boyd mentioned that the baby had been breastfed prior to the incident, he performed a brief finger sweep to make sure that there was nothing in the windpipe.

The baby finally responded to the finger sweep, beginning to cry — which Kimbro knew meant she was breathing. She took three more breaths, but then stopped again.

He attempted another round of sternum rubs, and realized that she was starting to breathe again. Seconds later, emergency medical services arrived on the scene and took over her care.

The entire encounter was recorded by Kimbro's body camera. The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office shared the footage on their Facebook page, calling the deputy "steadfast, professional, and heroic."

"When I was performing first aid I just did what I was trained to do," Kimbro said in a statement provided by the sheriff's office. "I knew I needed to keep that baby as alert as possible until EMS got on scene. I also made sure to keep the grandma and mom as calm as possible."

Kemira Boyd confirmed to TODAY that the baby made a full recovery, and has not had any complications since then. She said that a member of the hospital staff had suggested that the baby may have been trying to spit up, but since she was sleeping on her back, she had been unable to do so and begun to choke.

Kimbro, who has been with the sheriff's office since 2013, has been honored with the office's “Life-Saving Medal” for his actions. Kemira Boyd also said that she and the baby surprised him at the police station on Tuesday, June 23, to thank him for his actions.

"It was a [coincidence] that I happened to be there when I was," said Kimbro, who is himself the father to two adult children. "I believe God put me in the right place at the right time."