SAN DIEGO - A Chula Vista Caltrans worker is being called a hero after he performed lifesaving CPR on an infant along state Route 54 on Monday.
Joe Thomas, a road maintenance worker for the last 18 years, had just filled a pothole and was returning to the maintenance yard when something told him to take the long way.
He passed the E Street exit he usually takes, and headed north on Interstate 5 to the 54 east ramp. That was where he saw two women waving their arms and screaming.
Thomas pulled over and called the Caltrans dispatcher, asking for paramedics. Then, he took action.
"I grabbed the child and the child wasn't moving and was foaming at the mouth. It had a seizure and he stopped breathing," recalled Thomas, who then began performing CPR on the infant's tiny, lifeless body.
"The eyes were rolled back," said Thomas. "The baby was cold. He was blue, and he started spitting out a lot of saliva and his mouth was red, and I wiped the stuff off the mouth and a few minutes later, he started gasping for air."
Thomas continued doing compressions on the boy's chest, and eventually he began breathing.
When asked what was going on in his mind during the incident, Thomas said, "Please don't die. Don't die."
Thomas credited the mandatory CPR training that Caltrans gives its employees for knowing what to do in an emergency.
"I didn't think too much," he said. "I did what I had to do."
Coworkers sang Thomas' praises.
"What he did was outstanding," said Rafael Gonzalez, who added if one of his children stopped breathing he would want Thomas around.
"Man, he did it," added David Silva. "He just happened to be there at the right time and saved a child's life."
Silva treated his hero coworker to a pie. Other Caltrans workers were buying Thomas lunch.
"Joe's an outstanding guy," said Mark Hyman, who said he was moved by the fact that he saved a baby's life.
Hyman said he has a theory about why Thomas took a different route back to the yard on Monday.
"There's a gospel song that goes, 'Oh Lord guide my feet,' and I think that's what happened," he said. "God led him to that point and he saved that child's life."
Thomas still doesn't know what became of the little boy.
"I want closure," he told 10News. "I want to know the kid's OK."
10News checked with Rady Children's Hospital to find out about the boy's condition. As of this writing, they had not been able to contact the infant's family.