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Off-duty Genesee County deputy saves 18-month-old toddler in cardiac arrest

Deputy Rocky Hensley helps family during medical emergency

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – A Genesee County deputy saved an 18-month-old toddler who went into cardiac arrest at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills.

The weekend of Feb. 10 was supposed to be a fun adventure for the Runnels family, from Grand Rapids, when they went to Sea Life at Great Lakes Crossing. All was well with 18-month-old Vivian when they left their home.

But when the family was in the food court Feb. 10, Vivian had a seizure. Genesee County corrections deputy Rocky Hensley was off-duty, but when he saw what was happening, he couldn’t just stand by.

“I just ran over there, told the dad I was an off-duty deputy and I could help,” Hensley said.

At first, he thought Vivian was choking, but when her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she stopped breathing, he knew she was in cardiac arrest.

“I did 30 compressions or so and she took a deep breath and just started crying,” Hensley said. “I was freaking out on the inside. I didn’t want to let anyone know.”

Hensley was honored Wednesday by Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson for his heroics.

“A lot of people might have watched what happened,” Swanson said. “This guy brought that little girl back.”

Vivian was diagnosed with influenza-A. She’s now home and back to normal.

“What can you say to thank him for that?” her mother said. “We are so grateful.”

Hensley sent Vivian a present: a Build-A-Bear with a police badge.


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