Officer hailed as hero for saving infant
The tag makes 31-year-old Grand Junction police officer William Cox cringe because his heroics have made him the butt of jokes among some of his fellow officers for the better half of this year.
During a training session for life-saving techniques attended by Cox and other officers in June, an instructor at one point asked the class what should be done in the event they came across someone set afire.
“Call Supercop,” one officer yelled out.
Cox has reluctantly worn the moniker since February, when he doused flames on a man who accidentally set himself on fire at a neighborhood bonfire near 28 Road and Gunnison Avenue. Witnesses started calling him “Supercop,” and the nickname stuck in a story about the incident published by The Daily Sentinel.
Cox, a 1996 Grand Junction High School graduate who joined the department in December 2008, now largely is credited with saving the life of a now-9-month-old boy, Brian Duval, who nearly drowned in a bathtub the night of June 1 at a downtown Grand Junction hotel.
That night, Cox performed CPR for the first time in his young law enforcement career in a real scenario.
“We as officers get these tools and training on how to use these tools, but you really don’t know if they work,” he said. “Now I know.”
In the process, he earned a new nickname in the eyes of 35-year-old Alexandro Duval, father of the saved infant.
“Out of nowhere, this angel came from ...” Duval said, his words trailing off and choked with emotion. “His name was officer Cox.”
NOT BREATHING, NO PULSE
On June 1, Alexandro Duval phoned dispatchers around 7:15 p.m., requesting an officer to deal with a man drinking beer and smoking suspected marijuana outside the Hotel Melrose.
Duval, general manager at the hotel, said he called for his wife, Tatayana, to come watch the officer’s encounter with the man.
Tatayana had started a bath for her two young children, including Brian, 8 months old at the time.
According to a Grand Junction Police Department incident report, Alexandro Duval said his wife would check in on the children “every minute or so” and had left the door open between the bathroom and the manager’s office of the hotel, where they watched the officer’s encounter.
“Things were fine for the first few minutes,” the report said.
The mother eventually went into the bathroom and screamed.
“Alexandro ran in and found Brian completely submerged in the water and out of his seat,” the report said.
“He was floating face down ... had a pinkish blue color,” Duval said in an interview.
He grabbed his lifeless son from the tub, placing him on the floor in the manager’s office, frantically trying to pump water from the boy’s chest.
Outside, Cox said, he was wrapping up business with the intoxicated man when a woman ran from the front door, screaming about a “dead baby” inside.
The officer’s report said the boy wasn’t breathing, had no pulse and was unresponsive to touch.
Investigators later concluded he was likely under water anywhere from five to 10 minutes.
“It looked like a baby doll,” Cox said, saying he cleared water and mucus from the child’s mouth, then started CPR and gently turned the boy’s head to drain water.
The officer’s written report says he performed CPR on the infant for approximately three minutes and noted the child eventually took three “agonal breaths.”
“Brian started to come back,” the boy’s father said.
Grand Junction firefighters and paramedics were at the hotel within roughly a minute of being called. They scooped up the child and started further treatments during the short ambulance sprint to St. Mary’s Hospital.
Paramedic Matt Sewalson described the child’s condition as “critical,” with no breathing, but he said Brian eventually started breathing on his own.
“(Cox) was buying time for this child,” said John Hall, health and safety officer for the Fire Department.
A distraught Cox was ordered back to the department by his sergeant to write out a report about the incident, but Cox said he stopped first to say a prayer.
“I thought (CPR) hadn’t worked,” he said. “Then I get a call from the sergeant at the hospital saying the baby was screaming. There was overwhelming relief.”
“I was pretty shaken up,” he said, praising his colleagues for support.
“Immediately, there was just warmth, people asking if I was OK. This is family.”
From St. Mary’s, the boy was flown to Children’s Hospital in Denver, where a battery of tests showed the child suffered no permanent damage. Within two days, Brian Duval was discharged and on the road back to Grand Junction with his parents.
An investigation into the incident yielded no criminal charges.
Cox, who likely will be up for his second life-saving commendation in five months, is quick to give credit to colleagues, firefighters and doctors.
“This was a teamwork thing,” he said.
Cox no doubt will have to endure the “Supercop” references for some time to come, but more enduring will be the gratitude of Alexandro Duval.
“I usually don’t like cops ... they make me feel uncomfortable,” Duval said. “But I owe everything to him.”