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Cape officer saves infant

By Staff | Mar 5, 2011

A Cape Coral police officer is being recognized for his quick actions.
Officer Justin Altman has received the Cape Coral Police Department’s Lifesaving Award for reviving an infant during a traffic stop in February.
At about 10 p.m. Feb. 16, Kate Hroncich said she was at home feeding her then 3-week-old son, Lucas, when something went wrong.
“I went to burp him and he looked up at me and his face went blue,” she said Friday.
She and her husband, Tony, tried patting the child on the back to clear the blockage but were unsuccessful.
They quickly jumped in the car and headed for the hospital.
She drove as Tony continued to try to clear Lucas’ airway.
“Of course, I’m going extremely fast,” Hroncich said.
Altman was working patrol at the time and he observed the car traveling in excess of 70 mph on Santa Barbara Boulevard. He pulled the vehicle over and began to approach the driver. At that moment Hroncich shouted out to him.
She said she yelled for him to go around to the passenger’s side.
Altman ran to the window and observed the Hronciches. Lucas was still being held by his father and the infant had begun to turn blue, according to police.
Altman called for EMS, then took the baby and began first aid.
“It was basically the Heimlich maneuver for infants,” Hroncich said.
Altman held Lucas on his side and delivered a few light blows to his back, dislodging a large amount of mucus that had become stuck in his airway.
“He had a cold that we thought was just a simple cold,” she said.
With a clear airway, Lucas began to cry and his color returned to normal.
“It was a very good sound,” Hroncich said. “Screaming was the best sound you could have heard.”
EMS arrived moments later and examined the infant. They determined that there was no need to take Lucas to the hospital and he was released to his parents.
Hroncich said the entire incident happened so quickly.
“You just wanted him to breathe,” she said.
Lt. Tony Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape police, reported that the night supervisor nominated Altman for the Lifesaving Award following the incident.
“We give them out if and when the circumstances arise,” he said. “If in the course of doing your job, your actions are directly tied to saving a life.”
Altman will be recognized at the Do The Right Thing ceremony on March 16.
Interim Police Chief Jay Murphy praised Altman in a prepared statement released Friday.
“Thank you Justin, your quick actions undoubtedly saved this infant’s life,” Murphy wrote.
Hroncich said she and her husband learned a few days after the incident that Altman would be receiving the award.
“We believe that he totally deserves it,” she said. “We’re just so happy that we were able to have a police officer that knew what to do.”
“It could have ended a whole other way,” Hroncich added.
As of Friday, now 6-week-old Lucas was doing very well.
“He’s doing great now,” she said. “He’s doing very very well.”
Altman was unavailable for comment Friday.