Inmate, detention officer recall life-saving moment in jail

CHARLOTTE — An inmate at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center saved an officer who was choking while working in the kitchen, officials said.

Detention Officer M. Simmons was working in the kitchen and began to choke on a breakfast sandwich.

“It went the wrong way. I just couldn’t breathe,” she said.

Inmate Jimmy Cummings was passing by the kitchen last week and saw the officer in distress.

“She was stooped over and the way it sounded, it didn’t sound normal,” Cummings said.

Cummings rushed over to help and performed the abdominal thrust on Simmons.

“When I was younger, I was a Boy Scout,” Cummings told Channel 9. “Trained in CPR, Heimlich, I’ve never forgotten.”

Simmons is thankful for Cummings and his training.

“There was a chance that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Mr. Cummings,” Simmons said.

The jail is an unexpected place for a personal lifelong connection between a jail officer and a jail resident.

“Being incarcerated, sometimes we are looked at in a negative manner,” Cummings said.

The moment offered some perspective.

“Going through situations like that, I guess it makes you reflect like what can I do differently from here on out,” Cummings said.

“Forever grateful, absolutely, absolutely,” Simmons said.

Cummings shared some advice for anyone else in a situation where they might need to save someone: Don’t panic.