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Video: Ala. deputy saves choking baby

Deputy Jacob Cook drove his cruiser at more than 100 miles per hour to reach and save Alyra Jones

Alabama mother recounts the day a Lee County Sheriff's deputy saved her daughter's life

“This man is beyond deserving of everything that he could ever be given in his life,” Jones said. “He is not only a man of good character, but he goes above and beyond his call of duty.”

Lee County Sheriff’s Office via tiktok

By Brittany McGee
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.

LEE COUNTY, Ala. — LaTonya Jones’ cries were audible before the Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Cook pulled up to the scene on Sept. 25.

She was sitting in her front yard cradling her almost 2-year-old daughter, Alyra, who was wearing a blue ‘Just Call Grandma!’ onesie and sporting white beads in her hair.

Cook rushed out of his vehicle and ran up to Jones.

“Let me see her,” he said calmly. “She’s going to be all right.”

He took the limp baby girl from her mother’s arms and began procedures to help clear Alyra’s airway.

“Oh my God,” Jones said, sucking in deep breaths in her panic.

Cook continued to firmly pat the baby’s back as he calmly and continuously reassured the mother that her daughter was now breathing.

Alyra began to quietly cry as Smiths Station Fire and Rescue arrived. He carried the baby over to the crew and informed them of the situation.

“She’s finally starting to breathe,” Cook told them. “She stopped for a minute.”

By the time Alyra was in the back of the ambulance, she was crying loudly and responsive.

EMS transported the toddler to Piedmont Columbus Regional’s Pediatric Emergency Department for further care. She was soon released and recovered at home.

The body-cam footage showing this scene play out only lasted about 1 minute and 42 seconds.

But it doesn’t show the full story of the events that led to Cook being honored in Piedmont Columbus Regional’s First Friday Hero ceremony on Dec. 12.

@leecosheriffal

On September 24, 2023, Lee County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received a call about an unresponsive baby. Deputy Jacob Cook began procedures to clear her airway while reassuring the mother that everything was going to be okay. EMS arrived and transported the baby to the hospital for further care. The baby has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home with her parents. We are grateful to have quick-thinking Deputies like Deputy Cook and community partners like Smiths Station Fire & Rescue working together to keep the citizens of Lee County safe. #sheriff #deputy #deputysheriff #lcsoal #leecounty #smithsstation #eastalabama #alabama #humanizethebadge #backthebadge #backtheblue

♬ original sound - Lee County Sheriff Alabama

What happened to Alyra

Jones learned more about what happened to Alyra in the days following her medical emergency.

On Sunday, Sept. 24, Alyra began running a fever seemingly out of nowhere, Jones told the Ledger-Enquirer. Her daughter began getting warm at about 7 p.m. in the evening, so she gave her some Tylenol.

The next morning, Jones, who works for Aflac, worked from home. She noticed Alyra beginning to act sluggish.

“I could tell that she wasn’t feeling well,” Jones said. “She was very clingy as well.”

Jones was holding Alyra trying to get her to eat something when Alyra’s body began to slowly jerk every couple of seconds. The toddler’s mouth was clenched and her eyes were unfocused.

That is when Jones began to panic and called 911.

The 911 dispatcher advised Jones to place a finger in Alyra’s mouth so that she wouldn’t choke and turn her on her side. Jones placed the girl on the floor as the dispatcher advised, and then she felt her daughter’s body go limp.

“It was like life just left her body,” Jones said.

Deputy Cook was in the area. The dispatcher advised Jones to go outside, so he could find them more easily.

That’s where a hysterical Jones was when she saw Cook’s vehicle pull up to her yard. She would later learn he was driving over 100 mph to reach her house.

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Alyra with an adenovirus, a common cause of respiratory illness that are not typically severe. Doctors believe Alyra experienced a febrile seizure, a convulsion in a child caused by fever, but couldn’t tell Jones this was the cause with “absolute certainty.”

Above and Beyond

In the body-cam footage, which was viewed more than 20,000 times on TikTok, Cook is heard telling Jones that Alyra was breathing and would be fine not long after taking the toddler from her arms.

Cook came back to Jones’ home the next day to check on Alyra. And to tell Jones the truth.

Alyra was not breathing when he told her that.

“He said he told me that she was breathing to calm me down because I was so hysterical,” Jones said.

Cook’s words to Jones helped her calm down, she said, even though the deputy was worried the rest of the day and night that the toddler had not survived.

“We understand there’s a window of time you have to get there,” he told her. “And it’s (often) not a good ending.”

After that September day, Cook and his wife, Ashley, became friends with Jones and her family. The Cook’s regularly check in on how Jones and Alyra are doing, she said, and even attended the little girl’s 2nd birthday party on Nov. 10.

This experience has changed her family forever, Jones said.

Her son, Jayvien Jones, 19, is stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base, she said. He had to be convinced not to take leave to come home and be with his family.

Jones now worries every time Alyra, who recently contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), gets sick. She has now signed up to get certified in CPR to be prepared in case something like this happens again.

“After what happened with her, when the opportunity came I knew that I had to take those classes,” Jones said. “Because being knowledgeable and being at the right place at the right time can really make a difference.”

Jones and Alyra’s father, Willie McDaniel, are grateful for Cook’s quick thinking, ability to calm Jones down and the compassion he showed the family after the fact.

She was impressed by the fact Cook not only followed-up the next day, but continued to stay in touch. It showed her that he really cared about his job and people, Jones said.

Cook is part of her family now, she said, and Jones is happy he was nominated to be a First Friday Hero.

“This man is beyond deserving of everything that he could ever be given in his life,” she said. “He is not only a man of good character, but he goes above and beyond his call of duty.”

___

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Visit the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.) at www.ledger-enquirer.com
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