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‘Act of God’ and well-trained officer save life of child choking at church

Posted at 3:47 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 17:46:17-05

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- "I think it was an act of God that he was there."

Lady Millan, the wife of the pastor at First Christian Pentecostal Church in Dinwiddie, said God and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officer Mark Shaw helped save the life of one-year-old Jonathan Castillo. Millan and the Castillo family were in church Sunday for Sunday School when baby Jonathan started to choke.

Lady Millian

Lady Millan

"He was not breathing," Millan said when asked to describe what she saw. "His eyes were rolled back."

After telling members of the congregation to call 911, Millan, baby Jonathan and his mother ran outside for help.

Little did they know, help was already there.

Officer Shaw, who has been an EMT for more than 30 years, had just pulled in to the parking lot the Dinwiddie Sheriff's Office and church share to take care of some police paperwork when he saw the commotion and choking child.

Officer Mark Shaw

Officer Mark Shaw

"It scared me... it really did," he said.

Shaw grabbed the child and performed the Heimlich maneuver. Baby Jonathan eventually spit up whatever it was that blocked his airway.

"When I felt him take that first big, deep breath, that was great," Shaw said.

More emergency workers arrived and Baby Jonathan was flown to VCU Medical Center for additional treatment. All reports from the hospital indicate he is doing well and expected to make a full recovery.

"To have someone close to us for that purpose, I think God just sent him there for that purpose," Millan said.

Baby Jonathan

She added her husband planned to incorporate the experience into an upcoming church sermon and encourage his congregation to learn CPR, the Heimlich maneuver and basic first aid.

"That's a great skill to have," Shaw said. "If the situation arises and you have those skills you're going to make a difference in someone's life."