An unexpected reunion of an Arroyo Grande police officer and a young girl whose life he saved three years ago added to the holiday cheer at the department’s recent annual Santa Cop event.
Each year the Arroyo Grande Police Department gives back to the community by donating gifts to families in need during Christmas time. This year, 43 children and 27 adults were selected to be a part of the program.
When 6-year-old Hannah Simmons arrived at the event, she immediately ran up to senior police Officer Mike Smiley and gave him a hug.
“He saved my life when I had a seizure at my grandma’s,” said Hannah. “Grandma didn’t know what was wrong with me, so they called the police and Officer Smiley saved me.”
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Hannah, who was only 3 at the time, doesn’t remember much about the seizure but has heard stories about it from family members over the past few years.
“She remembered him because we had talked about how Officer Smiley saved her life throughout the years,” said Carol Simmons, her grandmother.
What Hannah knows of police officers is simple.
“Well, they protect us from bad guys, and they have weapons and they have to go to training to do it because that is pretty much how they can be an officer,” said Hannah, who is in first grade. “And some of them are girls.”
What Officer Smiley knows of Hannah he says he will never forget.
“When I saw Hannah three years ago, she wasn’t breathing,” said Smiley. “To have the chance to see a small child grow who almost didn’t have a chance is pretty indescribable, really.”
Smiley was dispatched to the young girl’s home on a report of a child choking. Because he is also a paramedic with San Luis Ambulance, he immediately recognized that she was having a seizure brought on by a high fever and couldn’t breathe.
The ambulance was more than 10 miles away, but Smiley was able to use his medical training to cool her fever, stop the seizure and get her breathing again until additional help arrived.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Smiley. “Traumatic incidents like that tend to linger — especially with a young child.”
Smiley said it is not often that he is reconnected with the people that he has helped in the community.
Hannah’s hug is now how he will remember her.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.