NYPD officers step in during police graduation to save child from choking

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- A pair of NYPD officers were in the right place at the right time on Wednesday, when they helped save a child from choking on popcorn during the Police Academy graduation.

Lieutenant Greg Besson and Detective Mark Rubin, members of the Financial Crimes Task Force, were attending the Police Academy Recruit Graduation at Madison Square Garden when they heard a commotion coming from the family of one of the graduates, Officer Leonardo Escorcia.

"When I saw, he was shivering," mom Lillian Escorcia said. "I turned him around, and he was like shaking, and his eyes was rolling back. I wasn't sure what was going on."

The officers quickly realized that Officer Escorcia's 1-year-old son Daniel was choking.

"I basically thought he died," Lillian said. "Because the way that he was, he basically wasn't even moving."

All the 26-year-old wanted to do was to take her two sons to see their dad graduate. The last thing they expected was an emergency.

"Heard a commotion, looked to my right, and I could see in another section, I said, well something's happening," Besson said. "To hear the calls for help...has the chilling effect."

Rubin, who is also a paramedic, began patting the child's back to clear his airway.

"At that point, his lips were cyanotic," Rubin said. "They were blue, which means he wasn't profusing oxygen at that point. Put him across my lap, gave him a couple of back blows to dislodge whatever was there."

Officer Escorcia was about to walk across the stage when his wife called him to let him know what was going on. So he jumped out of line and ran to be with his family.

"By the time I got there, he was already, Detective Mark already had him on his shoulder," he said. "I didn't even walk the ceremony."

Soon, enough the popcorn puff that that caused the choking was dislodged from his airway, and he regained consciousness.

"It was just a really random thing," Besson said. "We weren't supposed to be sitting in that section. To watch that commotion and to run and get there first, I thought to myself, wow, this could really go bad if it doesn't go right."

The child was initially brought to the EMS station within the arena before being taken to St. Luke's Hospital for evaluation.

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