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Glendale police officer reunites with toddler he helped save

James Colvin was a block away when he got the call of a "child down" in a Glendale neighborhood one Sunday morning last April.

When the Glendale police officer pulled up his patrol car, he saw a 2-year-old boy, unresponsive on the concrete driveway, taking short, erratic breaths.

Clayton Cha had just tumbled 22 feet out of a bedroom window.

A certified EMT, Colvin immediately recognized signs of brain swelling and stabilized the boy until paramedics arrived.

"I didn't think. I just did what I was trained to do," Colvin said.

He followed the ambulance to Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, where he stood for several hours at the boy's bedside, while doctors and nurses put a device in his skull to measure brain pressure and worked to control back-to-back seizures.

That day, and those that followed, were the most traumatic for Clayton's parents, who learned that Clayton had sustained four skull fractures.

Jennifer Cha imagined only two possibilities for her son's future — either he'd die or he'd be completely dependent.

Clayton underwent surgery and spent 54 nights in the hospital before he was allowed to go home a couple of weeks shy of his third birthday.

Since then, he's undergone physical and occupational therapies. His vision remains affected, and the left side of his body is weak, but doctors are hopeful that he will make a full recovery, his mother said.

"He survived the unimaginable," Jennifer Cha said. "I can't help but think, 'miracle,' when I think about what he went through."

The morning of the accident, Clayton opened the blinds, reached for the window latch and pushed the screen off before he fell out.

"The rule is you're not allowed to touch the blinds, you're not allowed to touch the windows," Jennifer Cha said. "As soon as dad stepped out of the room, that's what he went for."

In the months that followed the accident, Colvin frequently thought of Clayton and would contact the boy's father for updates on his recovery.

On Friday, for the first time since the accident, the pair met again.

"Hi, buddy, how are you?" Colvin asked, greeting Clayton with a high five as the boy scampered into the Glendale police station, clutching a homemade drawing for his "superhero."

"It touched me that he really cared about how my son was doing, to take time out of his busy schedule to call and get updates," Jennifer Cha said. "It was important for me personally to come and thank everybody involved in the rescue."

The visit marked the first time in Colvin's 11 years as a police officer that someone has come to the station to personally thank him.

"It's awesome, that's why you do this job," Colvin said. "Everything goes to that kid — he's a superhero."

A month after Clayton was released from the hospital, his family threw him a joint birthday and welcome-home party with, of course, a Man of Steel theme.

"We call him Super-Claytie," his mom said.

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Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek

Copyright © 2016, Glendale News-Press
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