With his bald head, light goatee and bulging arms covered in dark tattoos, Officer Kenneth Knox is an imposing figure. But what he did recently while responding an emergency call revealed his softer side.
The Georgia sheriff’s lieutenant has been a police officer for 25 years, serving in Meriwether County since 1990. During his time on the force, he’s been stabbed and engaged in shootouts, according to the Washington Post.
But the most important moment of his career, and the one that has brought him Internet fame, was when he saved a dying baby by dislodging a chunk of cereal lodged in her windpipe.
On Saturday, September 24, Patrol Officer Kenneth Knox responded to a “child choking” call. Upon arrival, he found a 2-month-old girl, who wasn’t breathing, reported KDFW.
“Being a father, I go as fast as I can go to get there,” Knox told the Post. “I was going so hard, I almost jumped out of my car when it was rolling, leaving it in drive.”
“When I jumped out there were probably 30 or 40 people in the yard, and I knew immediately who the father was, because he was running around yelling, ‘Someone please save my baby,’” Knox recalls.
When he walked into the home of Kristen Parham and her husband, he found two-month-old Ma’Yavi, who had “turned bluish purple and her eyes had gone dark.”
“I had fed her an hour prior to her choking,” Parham told KDFW. “We were sitting outside, in my car, and all of a sudden she started gasping for air and white stuff was coming out of her nose and mouth.”
In a panic, her father the baby’s father jumped off the porch and attempted CPR, but Knox thinks that further lodged cereal, which had somehow traveled back up Ma’Yavi’s esophagus, in her throat.
“We both didn’t know what to do, so I called 911,” Parham said.
Knox laid the baby on the couch and did reverse CPR on her, and he sucked the cereal out of her throat,” Parham said.
The infant began breathing again, smiled at the officer, and started crying, which Knox described in a heartfelt post on Facebook as “music to his ears.”
Though Knox doesn’t sound like the sort of man who generally cries in front of others, but he choked back tears as he described this scene as he described his epiphany.
The photo has gone viral; it has been shared over 64,000 times. One commenter wrote, “I think it gets lost often in all the criminal activity cops face and in part, the bravado associated with some law enforcement these days, but perhaps this is the real reason you put on the uniform everyday? You’ll probably bust hundreds if not thousands of perps in your career, but how many times will you save a life?”
“That’s why I said it came from God, [because] it hit me like a rock,” Knox said. “Suck it out. She’s a baby, you’re a man.”
Parham said: “I know he is a great person and my baby will love him. Every time she sees him, she gives him a big smile.”
Knox thinks that more acts like this could be a “game-changer for the U.S.,” in terms of race-relations, but his personal focus is on the child, now his goddaughter.
“I know the baby’s part of my family,” Knox said. “My grandkids and kids are gonna get to know her well. They’re all family now,” Knox said.