Caltrans hero reunites with baby he saved

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SAN DIEGO – A Caltrans employee who saved a baby’s life was reunited with the baby boy and his family Friday.

CesarOn Wednesday, Joe Thomas had just finished up his day repairing potholes and was headed back to the Department of Transportation depot when he came across a vehicle on the shoulder of eastbound 54, near Interstate 5.

“I don’t know why I took that way, I usually use E Street but something told me to take the 54,” said Thomas. “I saw a woman crying, they were shocked and I was shocked too seeing this. So I pulled over to the right shoulder.”

That detour Thomas decided to make ended up saving 13-month old Cesar Ortiz’s life.

The boy’s grandmother said little Cesar had a seizure in the car and stopped breathing.

“When I grabbed the child, he wasn’t moving and his eyes were rolled back,” said Thomas.

He did what he could and performed CPR. After about five minutes, baby Cesar started gasping and tried to breathe on his own.

When paramedics arrived, they took over and took Cesar to Children’s Hospital. Doctors said the seizure was possibly brought on by the 103 degree fever he had been fighting.

Cesar’s mother, Denise Ortiz is grateful Thomas saw them on the side of the road. She said if Thomas hadn’t shown up, she’s not sure if her son would be alive today.

The mother of four said she will be learning CPR now.


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