Berkeley County Sheriff’s Deputy Will Kimbro was on routine patrol one afternoon last month in Summerville, S.C., when he and his partner saw a car speed by them. They stopped the car, and suddenly the driver ran up to them and reported that a baby wasn’t breathing.
“What?” Kimbro recalled saying, surprised.
The woman told him her granddaughter was in the car, and she wasn’t breathing. She asked for an escort to a hospital.
Kimbro called for an ambulance and went to the baby. What happened next was recorded by his body camera on June 11. Kimbro opened a passenger side door and saw a woman with a 12-day-old baby on her lap.
“Let me have the baby,” Kimbro said, asking the infant’s name. He didn’t detect a heartbeat or pulse.
Her name is Ryleigh, the baby’s mother said, explaining that she had been taking a shower, and her stepmother was watching Ryleigh when she stopped breathing. They thought she had choked on milk.
The baby made a small sound as Kimbro tapped on her chest and said to her, “Come on, baby, come on, baby.”
“I’m worried about her because she starts breathing and then stops,” he said, then pleads with Ryleigh: “Let me know you’re still with me, honey, come on.”
Kimbro checked her mouth for milk and began to rub Ryleigh’s sternum and tap on her chest in an effort to circulate her blood. He decided against doing rescue breaths because he learned in a recent CPR class that if someone is choking, blowing into their mouth can be harmful.
As he tapped on Ryleigh’s chest, he explained to the mother what he was doing in an effort to keep her calm.
“That baby was living no matter what I had to do,” Kimbro said later in an interview this week.
He said he felt his own stress level spike — “freaked out is an understatement” — when he picked up Ryleigh and didn’t detect a heartbeat.
Kimbro, a five-year veteran of the force, is himself a father and a retired Navy police officer.
He tapped Ryleigh’s chest, he rubbed her sternum.
Then her chest started to go up and down. He felt a soft heart beat.
In the video, the relief in his voice is audible.
“I can feel that heart, it’s good now,” Kimbro tells the mother.
An ambulance arrived quickly, and after Kimbro passed Ryleigh to an EMT, he took a few deep breaths and instead of driving away, he stayed and peeked into the ambulance a few times to check on her.
She was doing well.
When he got home that night, his wife had already heard about what had happened. She hugged him and cried. She told him he did a good job. They learned that Ryleigh was going to be okay.
The sheriff’s office put the video on Facebook last week, and Kimbro said he has since gotten a lot of attention and friend requests.
But before that happened, he found himself thinking about Ryleigh for days after the incident. She was so little, he recalled, and was in such distress.
“I broke down a few days later, I’m not ashamed to admit it,” Kimbro said. “I guess it just hit me. We’re all human.”