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Crime Chase Leads Officer to Life-Saving Rendezvous

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It looked like a kidnaping. It turned out to be a kid saving.

Los Angeles police officer Jim Tomer expected to nab some bad guys. Instead, he was being credited Saturday with saving a 17-month-old boy who had suffered convulsions and stopped breathing.

The child, Michael Roman, was reported in stable condition Saturday at Childrens Hospital.

Tomer and his partner, Steve Razo, spotted trouble shortly after noon--a car filled with people and commotion racing down Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. The officers chased the vehicle as it ran a red light and swung onto Hollywood Boulevard.

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“There were three or four adults in the car. There was a lot of moving around. They (the officers) thought it might be a kidnaping,” said Hollywood Division Sgt. Robert Plassmeyer.

But when the car stopped in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, relatives of the infant jumped out yelling, “My baby! My baby!” Plassmeyer said.

Tomer ran to the car and found the unconscious child on the back seat. The officer lifted the child onto his hand and administered a Heimlich-like procedure, patting its back and pushing up on its stomach. The child vomited, gurgled and began breathing again.

The child’s aunt, Wendy Ruiz, said in a telephone interview Saturday that another aunt and uncle were baby-sitting Michael, who lives in Hollywood with his mother, Juana Hernandez. Several relatives were on their way to a local bank with the child when the boy suddenly became seriously ill, she said. “He turned really pale,” she said. “And then stopped breathing.”

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One relative tried to revive the boy with cardiopulmonary resuscitation while the driver raced for the hospital, Ruiz said.

Plassmeyer said the child had been running a fever and been given an aspirin product shortly before the incident.

The boy’s mother, a department store sales clerk, was notified shortly after the incident and rushed to the hospital, Ruiz said.

Tomer could not be reached for comment.

After reviving Michael, Tomer was sent off Saturday afternoon to handle a report of a body being found. “You save one life and another one goes,” Plassmeyer said.


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