Saturday was just another enjoyable day off for Sgt. John Murnan with the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office.
He was at Under the Oaks Park in Parker, enjoying a birthday party with his son, daughter-in-law and their children.
The party was going swimmingly when Murnan heard shouting from across the park.
“We were just hanging out and someone started shouting ‘help, help, call 9-1-1’,” Murnan said. “Of course I am going to respond, somebody calling for 9-1-1, I had to find out what was going on.”
A teenager came sprinting, cradling a small boy – turned out he was 4-years-old – in his arms.
The young child was not breathing and was in clear distress, Murnan said.
“He was as blue as blue can be,” Murnan said. “He was, when I got him, I guess, gone.”
Murnan scooped up the young boy – Murnan believed he recognized the brother, who called the boy “Angel” and who willingly turned the boy over to Murnan’s care.
“He just said, ‘Look, help my brother,’” Murnan said.
Murnan put the boy in a modified Heimlich, arm across his abdomen, the boy’s head down, and did five thrusts.
After several thrusts the boy began to spit up wood debris used on the park walkways and began to breathe.
Murnan rolled him over and continued with one or two more compressions.
The boy went into a bit of a seizure – “Your brain basically rebooting itself,” Murnan said – and began to breathe on his own and gain his color back as the ambulance arrived.
“I just kind of went back to the party,” he said with a chuckle. “I don’t want to sound callous, but I didn’t think any more about it.
“That is what we are trained to do.”
All of this might not have ended up in black and white on this page if not for a Port St. Joe resident, Mary Williams, who happened to be at Under the Oaks last Saturday.
She witnessed the entire episode, including Murnan’s life-saving response.
She emailed hoping to locate the deputy.
“It amazed and touched a lot of people there,” Williams wrote after detailing Murnan’s actions followed by his return to his party. “I think he should be recognized for saving that little boy. We didn’t get his name but someone recognized him as a Gulf County Deputy.
“I hope you can find out so we all can know and thank him.”
Murnan had forgotten all about the incident when contacted by his supervisor that The Star was trying to locate him.
“He is a fine man and was just promoted to sergeant,” said Sheriff Mike Harrison.
When the email was read to Murnan to explain tracking him down, he said he was just doing what his many years in law enforcement – with Mexico Beach and Gulf County - had taught him.
To have someone recognize it, though, was not so bad.
“That is pretty cool,” Murnan said of Williams’ email.
Due to legal restrictions, information about the boy’s condition was not known, though there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries that day in those circumstances.
Murnan said the last he saw the boy called Angel he was doing fine and be attended to by EMS personnel. He was not even sure the boy was transported from the park by ambulance.