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Editorial: Hero cop jumped into action to save a life

Transit Police Officer David Capretto is right. A baby is alive today because he was in the right place at the right time. But Capretto errs in downplaying his role as merely showing up. He did more than that. He acted.

Some of that, of course, is because he’s a cop, trained to intervene. Fair enough, but in doing so – coolly, thoughtfully, strategically – he saved an infant’s life, while putting his own safety at risk. Even when it’s your job, that’s bravery  worthy of the public’s gratitude.

It was an odd story, to be sure. As last week’s snowstorm continued to lash the city Wednesday morning, Capretto was heading to the airport on police business. At the Scajaquada Expressway ramp to the Kensington Expressway, the routine of the drive was shattered.

A Chrysler Sebring rammed into the back of another vehicle, spun around, hit another vehicle and spun again before smashing into guard barrels and losing a wheel. And that’s when a situation that was already dangerous became both bizarre and potentially lethal.

The driver of the Sebring exited the damaged car holding what Capretto at first thought was a doll. He soon realized that the “doll” was a naked infant, exposed to the snow, wind and subfreezing temperatures.

Capretto saw that the child’s life was in danger and that the driver, who walked into traffic with her, was a threat. He grabbed the baby and ordered the driver back into his car to ensure he was nowhere near the infant, whom he described as “cold and lifeless.”

He then worked to save the child’s life, acting with intelligence and forethought. He wrapped the baby in a towel and squeezed her between his jacket and his chest. He notified officers at Erie County Medical Center that he was on the way with a baby in danger of dying, continually rubbing her back as he drove. Just as he started up the ramp at the hospital, the child began to cry.

Medical personnel took over and completed the mission of saving the baby’s life, infusing her with warm intravenous fluids before transferring her to Women and Children’s Hospital. By then, her condition was upgraded from critical to serious but stable.

So, yes: Right place, right time. But there was another factor in this child’s survival: Officer David Capretto.

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