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By Cole Zercoe for PoliceOne BrandFocus
Over the course of his 18 years in law enforcement with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, 41-year-old deputy Jeremie Nix has responded to a lot of tough situations. As a K-9 handler, he’s in the thick of it every day – a constant rollercoaster ride of priority calls that take him all across the county he was born and raised in.
“When the public has a problem, they call the police. When the police have a problem, they call the K-9 guys,” Nix said.
He’s worked narcotics, serves as the Rook armored vehicle operator on his agency’s SWAT team and trains the other K-9 teams when he’s not working with his own K-9 on the streets.
But for all of his experience and training, Nix knows that sometimes the difference between life and death in police work comes down to forces beyond one’s control. Some may call the series of events that led Nix to save the life of an infant in May 2018 simply good luck. Nix believes it was the work of a higher power.
“I’m a firm believer that God put me in the right place at the right time for the right reasons,” Nix said. “I truly believe that.”
FOLLOWING HIS CALLING
Nix describes himself as a “cop’s cop” – he sees working on the streets as his calling. As he’s gotten older, he’s remained where the action is – even if it meant passing on a promotion.
“I’ve really tried to spend the majority of my time not losing touch with that hands-on, ‘out there actually getting after it every day’ form of law enforcement. I still love it,” he said.
As a result of that zeal for being in the action as much as possible, Nix rarely works day shifts. On a normal day, he would have never been stopped at the intersection where Nechole Crowell was frantically trying to revive her lifeless son, Kingston. But he had filled in for another deputy that day and was heading home when a blaring horn caught his attention and kicked off the dramatic rescue. His actions were captured on video and went viral.
As a seasoned veteran, Nix has built up emotional immunity to trauma over time. Despite this, the initial sight of Kingston got to him.
“As I got out of the car, I’m met with this lady handing me this lifeless baby,” Nix said. “I think my mind was expecting a toddler. I wasn’t expecting an infant.”
Kingston’s body was rigid. He wasn’t breathing, and Nix couldn’t find a pulse. He gave him a few breaths and then immediately tried to do chest compressions. He’d done CPR on a baby before, but this was different. Kingston was so rigid that his chest wasn’t sinking in.
“I realized that I had to really bear down and push on this baby’s chest, and that’s a very tough thing to do because everybody looks at a baby as something that’s delicate,” Nix said. “So you want to be careful, but I realize I really have to push.”
When Nix pressed harder, the baby emitted a faint gasp, almost like he had been holding his breath.
”When I pushed real hard it released it. He went from being completely lifeless to this very small, faint eye squint like a baby does right before they’re going to start to cry,” Nix said.
Kingston still wasn’t breathing, but Nix could feel a very faint pulse. With no ambulance in sight, Nix made the unusual decision to drive the infant to the hospital himself.
JUST IN TIME
Within a few minutes of arriving at the hospital, Kingston was breathing again.
“I broke down right there,” Nix said. “It was the first time I was able to emotionally deal with what just happened. That baby screaming and crying was the best music in the world because it meant he was alive.”
A doctor would later tell Nix that his decision to drive Kingston to the hospital himself was the reason the infant survived. Had he waited, Kingston would have been without oxygen for too long. It’s another reason Nix believes it wasn’t just luck that had him taking that shift from a newer deputy that day.
“A lot of new deputies are scared to break the rules,” Nix said. “Obviously when you do this job for a really long time, you learn that there’s always a gray area when it has to do with the greater good. And I got a lot of praise from our administration saying that if it had been another deputy, somebody who was younger that wasn’t willing to make that decision to throw the rules out the window in that moment, they may have waited for that ambulance to get there and that baby would have never made it.”
Nix checked in with Nechole Crowell constantly in the hours and days after the initial rescue, and in the ensuing months the deputy, along with his wife, have become extremely close to Kingston and Nechole. They babysit, text nearly every day, and they recently accepted Nechole’s request to become Kingston’s godparents – the beginning of what Nix believes will be a lifelong role as a mentor and guardian for the infant who got a miraculous second chance at life.
For Nix, his lifesaving efforts were never about being in the spotlight. In fact, the incident would likely never have caught the attention of the world – including Nix’s own agency – if not for Nechole’s praise for the deputy on social media in the days following the rescue.
“I just wanted the world to know how great this officer is, & how great God is,” Crowell wrote on her Facebook page. “Not all officers are bad, he’s one of many good guys. King and I will forever appreciate you.”
Despite thousands of messages lauding his heroism, Nix remains self-effacing.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said. “For me, it was a huge blessing to be able to be that person for that baby and that mom at that time.”
He sees his newfound fame as an opportunity to be a positive representation of police. He answers every message he gets, which sometimes results in longer conversations with people who previously didn’t like cops until they saw Nix’s story.
Ultimately, he’s glad the story has touched so many lives.
“With all the negative stuff that goes on in the world, you know we need positive stuff,” Nix said.