'God put me where I was supposed to be': Danville officer saves baby

Police officer revives 2-week-old baby, choking at restaurant

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

DANVILLE, Va. - A Danville police officer, in the right place at the right time, is being hailed a hero.

Restaurant surveillance video showing the officer springing into action to help save a 2-week-old baby has gone viral.

Marilou Atwell was eating lunch with family at Nikki’s Restaurant Tuesday, when all of a sudden, her newborn great-grandson, Lucas, started choking.

"He wasn't breathing. He was purple," Atwell said. "All I knew to do with an infant was pat him on the back and that's all I knew to do. I was just praying, ‘Somebody please come and help me cause I can't do this. It's not working,’" Atwell said.

Seconds later, Atwell’s prayers were answered. Danville police Officer Melissa Carey, who was eating lunch at the time, ran across the restaurant and took Lucas from Atwell’s arms. She turned him over and started relentlessly trying to revive Lucas.

"Probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life," Atwell said.

 "I’m sure it was a very short, seconds, but it felt like forever," Carey said.

Carey continued working on Lucas, laying his tiny infant on her leg, until he finally started breathing.

“To roll him over and watch him take his first breath and knowing he was going to be OK, that was hard. That was hard," Carey said.

Carey is still trying to process the chaos that she called one of the most important moments in her career, but said a mix of adrenaline, training and motherly instincts came over her.

"I couldn't hear anything other than a woman's voice who was praying nearby and I knew at that point that God had just put me there at the right place, at the right time, to be able to save baby Lucas," Carey said. "He's a beautiful baby, he's got a beautiful family and I’m just so glad that I was there to be able to help him."

Lucas was still getting checked out by doctors Wednesday and is doing well.

Atwell said she plans to renew her CPR certification, so if needed, she can be a hero one day, too.


The use of the term "Heimlich maneuver" in this video does not accurately represent the maneuver as it's medically defined. However, the course of action Officer Carey took was indeed the correct response to a choking baby. Click here for more information about how to respond if an infant is choking.

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