Family reunites with officer who saved choking baby

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE —

Crystle Ganchenko knew she didn't have much time.

Her 6-month-old daughter, Lily, was choking and she had to get help as soon as possible.

Lily had stopped breathing, Ganchenko told Eyewitness News, adding that she was panicking.

“I thought she was going to die, because she went unconscious. She was just lying there cold,”  Ganchenko said.

She put Lily in her car and started out for the hospital several miles away when fate intervened.

Lt. Nate King and a team of officers were serving a search warrant at a home a block away when he said he saw a car racing up behind him with its flashers on. Ganchenko pulled up and frantically handed him her baby and asked him to please help.

“She said my baby's not breathing,” King said.

King said the little girl was lifeless and he could tell that she hadn't been breathing for some time.

He knew he was working against the clock. He asked Ganchenko how long it had been since Lily was breathing and figured he only had a few minutes to revive her before she would suffer some permanent damage.

King checked Lily’s throat and then turned her on her stomach, making sure to keep her head down, and patted her back; soon Lily began to show signs of life.

“A couple of minutes in, Lilly shivered once and I knew she was starting to be responsive,” King said. “She made eye contact with me, looked around at me and kind of had that look like, ‘Why are you whacking on me?  Why are you taking my food?’  And I knew we were home free.”

She started crying and then screaming, and Ganchenko said it was the most beautiful sound in the world.

Soon mother and daughter were on their way to the hospital in an ambulance.  Doctors examined Lily and said she was fine and had made a complete recovery.

On Tuesday Ganchenko and King met for the first time since those harrowing moments.

As they embraced, Ganchenko told King thank you, but added that somehow thank you isn't enough.

“There are no words to explain except a million ‘Thank yous’ to everyone,” Ganchenko said.

And Lily's grandmother gave King a small white teddy bear -- something that he will always have to remember them.