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Montgomery police officer gives CPR to baby who had stopped breathing

Officer Ben Crumlin was cruising through Montgomery County at 1 a.m. Monday, keeping his eyes peeled for possible drunk drivers or the smash-and-grab thieves who’ve been busting into area businesses recently. Behind him came a speeding car — horn blaring, headlights flashing.

Probably someone running me down to report a wreck, the officer thought, stopping in the left lane of three-lane Randolph Road. A gold sedan stopped next to him with its driver’s-side window down.

“My baby’s not breathing,” the man said. “My baby’s not breathing.”

Crumlin got out of his cruiser — all 6-feet, 7-inch, 320-pound, former college football player of him — and grabbed for his portable radio. What transpired over the next few minutes — an airway check, CPR, light chest compressions — may have saved the 9-day-old baby’s life.

“I’m not looking for a thanks,” Crumlin said in an interview, stressing that he just tried to fall back on his training. “I don’t think I need a thanks.”

Crumlin grew up in Prince George’s County, eyeing a career as a police officer as a little kid. He went on to play offensive line at James Madison University, entered Montgomery’s police academy and, six years ago, became an officer. This year, he went through a retraining program, part of which included practicing CPR on a doll.

But CPR wasn’t the first thing he did when he got out of the cruiser, because he realized he didn’t know exactly where he was. Crumlin hustled back down the roadway about 15 feet to read the street sign: Hammonton Place.

Speaking into his portable radio, Crumlin said he needed medics. He made a beeline to the gold car’s passenger side. He looked down at a woman, wearing pajamas, cradling a newborn in her lap and holding the child’s mouth open with her finger.

The officer was standing in the middle of a major county road. But traffic was light, his flashers were going and he reached down to cradle the baby himself. Crumlin checked the boy’s airway, pulling out a white, chunky substance.

Crumlin leaned forward and blew a quick breath into the infant’s mouth. He leaned the baby back in his left arm so that the baby’s head rested above his elbow and was angled slightly down. Crumlin thumped the child’s chest lightly with two of his massive fingers.

The boy responded with faint coughs. But things didn’t get much better. Crumlin got back on the radio, urging the medics to get there soon.

“I got the baby breathing, but we’re losing,” he said.

Moments later, the medics pulled up. They took over and sped the child to Holy Cross Hospital, near the Capital Beltway in the Silver Spring area, with the woman in the back of the ambulance. Crumlin offered to drive the man. He was also wearing pajamas and was with another, older boy. They wanted to go there in their own car.

Crumlin said he’d follow them and would speed up beside them if they needed to get through intersections. “If you’ve got to run a light, run it,” the officer said.

At the hospital, Crumlin got word that the child had started to breathe normally. The infant spent several hours there before being released.

Capt. Don Johnson, the commander of the county’s Silver Spring District, said the family didn’t want to speak to reporters and wanted to keep its privacy. But Johnson said he spoke with the parents Monday afternoon.

“The baby is doing fine,” he said.

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.



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