Cops Pull Up Behind Blinking Car. Seconds Later, Pounding on Baby's Back Begging Her to Breathe


Choking is a very real fear parents of babies and young children share. Tamika Pruitte was no different, but her daughter was at a heightened risk of choking.

Her two-month-old baby, Tyra, was born prematurely. She was more likely to vomit because of a birth defect.

Pruitte had her daughter secured in her car seat while she drove to pick up her friend from work. The car seat is the best place for an infant to be in a moving vehicle, but it meant Pruitte had to quickly decide what she would do when Tyra began choking in the back seat of the car.

Pruitte glanced back at her baby whose face was turning red. Tyra’s nose had milk pouring out of it.

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The two-month-old needed immediate help. Pruitte made the decision to stop the car in the middle of traffic.

She turned on her hazards and ran to the back seat to get her daughter out of the car seat. The risk of not administering lifesaving efforts to her choking daughter immediately seemed greater than the risks associated with stopping a car in the middle of the street.

While there is no good time for a two-month-old to be choking, Shaker Heights police officers could not have been in a better place at the time. A call for backup to an unrelated scene was canceled as they approached Pruitte’s car.

The sight of a stopped car with hazard lights on captured the attention of officers Ryan Sidders and Alex Oklander. They were thinking it would be a matter of calling a tow truck and not giving back thrusts to a two-month-old baby.

Body cam footage captured the critical moments when officers responded to the unexpected situation. The two officers and Pruitte all worked as a team to clear Tyra’s airway.

Pruitte told WOIO, “Save my baby. That’s all I was thinking about, save my baby.”

Chief DeMuth has recognized Sidders and Oklander for their intervention at just the right moment. We’d also like to recognize Pruitte for her quick-thinking and calm demeanor despite the scary emergency involving her daughter.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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