MIDVILLE, GA (The True Citizen) – Little AJ’s big brown eyes search the room, stopping when they land on his sister, Arie, and the two begin an array of coos and baby grunts their mama describes as their special language.
He’s a happy boy, grinning as folks stop to speak, his “I love my mommy” bib catching the drool from his chin.
The small group gathered grows quiet when Sgt. Harold Drummond walks in. Though he and the children’s mother haven’t been introduced, they know exactly who one another is. For Drummond, he’s remembering two sets of eyes — a mother’s, filled with fear, and AJ’s, listless, almost lifeless.
Midville mother Angel Collins remembers making the decision
to take AJ (Ariel Jr.) to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. It was Saturday,
Jan. 18, and she’d just had her five-month old twins at the emergency room in
Statesboro the night before; both were diagnosed with RSV and put on a saline
“His breathing never slowed down, and I said I better take him back but this time to the children’s hospital.”
After the babies finished their feeding, she, the babies’ father, Ariel Sherrod, and her sister, Joy Diallo, pilled into the family’s SUV and headed toward Augusta. “My sister kept checking AJ’s breathing, then all of a sudden she yelled to me, ‘Angel he’s not moving. He’s not moving at all.’”
Angel immediately called 911, telling the dispatcher she was almost in Waynesboro and would stop at Dollar General. As they prepared to pull into the parking lot, a Waynesboro Police Department cruiser turned in just before them.
Sgt. Drummond was a few hours into his night shift for the WPD when he heard the call come through.
“I was scanning, which means I can listen to other agencies on the radio,” he recalls. “On that particular night, EMS put out a distress call that there was an unresponsive child on its way into Burke County.” Just a few miles away, Drummond made his was to the Dollar General.
“I knew I was a little bit closer and advised our dispatcher to show me en route in case I could assist until EMS arrived.”
He was not prepared for what happened next.
“All four doors of this SUV opened up and she jumped out with her baby, along with the father and another woman. They were in panic mode.” As Angel ran toward the officer with her infant, he says she was screaming, “Please help me. My child is not breathing.”
Drummond says he’d rather look down the barrel of a gun than to have a mother hand him her unresponsive child. “It’s a scary thing, but when I saw her, my instincts kicked in. I knew what I had to do.” He placed the infant on the hood of his patrol car, checking to see if anything were blocking AJ’s airway and to start chest compressions.
“Because he is so small, l just used my two index fingers to try to massage his heart to where he’d start breathing again,” the officer recalls. “I did get very concerned; it seemed like it took an eternity, but it was probably three minutes. He was looking up at me with those big beautiful eyes, and I was looking down at him, just praying while performing my police duties. God blessed the situation and now here we sit today.”
As Drummond reaches for a much different AJ in the lobby of the WPD, planting a small kiss on the child’s forehead, Angel grabs them both in a group hug, thanking him for saving her child’s life.
“I really thank you,” she says, laughing when he admits he was nervous. “You didn’t seem nervous at all. I entrusted you guys to do what you do, and I thank you so very much, way deep down from the bottom of my soul.”
Police Chief Willie Burley and Assistant Police Chief Tommy Henderson watch the scene from the corner of the lobby, both stepping up to thank Sgt. Drummond. “I am extremely proud he was able to act in a fast, timely manner, show initiative by scanning and responding properly and then was able to offer assistance that turned out to be vital,” Henderson says. Burley adds, “Our job is to serve and protect. This sergeant did an outstanding job, and we are here for you any time you need us.”
Fighting back tears of his own, Drummond says all he could think about was how much faith a young woman put in him that night. “I was thinking, Wow. She passed me her most prized possession in the whole world. She entrusted the Waynesboro Police Department to be able to assist and help, and that’s the most awesome thing. This isn’t about me. It’s a team effort. You’ll hear us say we were only doing our job, and it’s not cliche to say because that is what we’re doing. Any police officer in this country would have done the exact same thing.”
AJ spent a total of four days at the children’s hospital,
and Angel says she thought often of the officer whom she met in the Dollar
General parking lot — the hero who saved her child.
“We left that night not knowing anything about each other,” she says, adding another thank you that still doesn’t seem like enough. As she straps the babies back into their carriers, covering them in pink and blue blankets, Drummond asks for one thing from Angel. “You have a beautiful family, and I would like for you to stay in touch as he grows. I am going to wonder about him for the rest of my life.”
This story first appeared in The True Citizen.