Long Beach Seabee and combat veteran saves baby

By The Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Miss. (AP) — A little girl yelled, “Call 911! The baby’s not breathing!”

Gulfport Seabee and combat lifesaver Jerry Johnson heard the cry, ran upstairs and used CPR to get 19-month-old Ayden Ladner breathing again before the ambulance came.

“If I had a million dollars I’d give it to him,” Kay Dolan, who had been babysitting her grandchildren Ayden and Emma, 7, said Friday.

Ayden, who has always been medically fragile, went stiff and turned blue just after his bath Thursday night, she said. “I have never witnessed something like that.”

The baby would have died without Johnson, Long Beach police said. Chief Wayne McDowell says he’s working on a Citizen’s Award for him.

Johnson, an instructor at the Gulfport Seabee Base, has had two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He’s a combat lifesaver and drill instructor.

Until Thursday night, he didn’t know his neighbors by name.

“I was taking my puppy outside for a walk when I heard the little girl scream,” he said. Then he heard Dolan shout, “Dear God, someone help me!”

Even after Ayden started taking short, heavy breaths, “his legs were straight and his toes were straight down and he was stiff as a board,” Johnson said.

He laid Ayden on his side and set the boy in a recovery position, with one leg straight and the other pulled out at a 90-degree angle. “I was on my knees and elbows, and I cradled him,” Johnson said.

Friday afternoon, Ayden’s mother, Alleigh Frazier, brought the boy to thank Johnson. A doctor diagnosed pneumonia complicated by other breathing problems, she said.