By Berndt Petersen, WSB-TV
FAIRBURN, Ga. — A quick-thinking and quick-acting Fairburn, Georgia police detective is being credited with saving a child’s life.
Deputy Charles Israel was working off-duty last week, patrolling the Food Depot on Broad Street, when he noticed a toddler wandering in the parking lot
“I could tell he’s not paying attention. He’s just walking backwards, totally oblivious to his surroundings,” Israel said of the 3-year-old.
That’s when he saw a truck backing out of a parking spot and coming toward the toddler. He jumped into action.
“I don’t think the truck even saw me. It definitely didn’t see the child. Even on a clear night, he’d never see the child due to his height,” Israel said.
Israel took off, sprinting across the parking lot toward the child.
“I just came up and grabbed him by his arms, and kind of turned and pivoted and set him back down by his car,” Israel said.
Surveillance cameras in the parking lot caught the terrifying moments on video.
“If he had not been paying close attention to his surroundings, then he might have missed that. And that child, we could be talking about a very different story right now,” Deputy Chief Anthony Bazydlo said.
A witness wanted to make sure the detective’s superiors knew what he had done, so she called the department and left a message.
“I just wanted to call him and tell him we appreciate him in the community of Fairburn. That was a good deed he did,” the caller said.
Israel said he’s just glad the child wasn’t hurt, but the anonymous caller’s message is much appreciated.
“If somebody takes the time out to send in a compliment, it makes you feel good,” he said.
Immediately after the incident, the child and his family went on their way.
Police are now working to identify the child so the detective can meet with the family.
“We’d love to be able to introduce them to the detective in a low-stress setting when they can come by, you know, give him a junior officer’s badge and coloring book so the young child can meet the detective when it’s not nighttime and raining in a parking lot,” Bazydlo said.
Israel was honored by the Fairburn City Council on Monday night.