Toddlers are natural explorers, always pushing boundaries and trying new things.
But for one mom, the way her child expressed his curiosity for the outside world was a bit too dangerous for comfort. His desire for independence took him out of his house, towards a busy roadway, and mere feet from oncoming traffic.
Sergeant Anthony Mannino spotted an odd shape in the road.
On May 10, Naperville Police Department Sergeant Anthony Mannino was driving his squad car down Route 59 in Illinois. He was on a routine patrol when he spotted something in the middle of the road.
“At first I thought it was a dog,” Mannino told the Chicago Tribune.
But as he closed the distance, the shape became clearer.
Running into the busy roadway was a 1 or 2-year-old boy: a toddler completely unaccompanied by his parents. Worse, he was seemingly oblivious to the imminent danger all around him.
The boy came within feet of being hit by a truck.
The tense situation was made more dangerous due to the seeming lack of interest by the other vehicles; not one slowed down or stopped to avoid hitting the child.
In fact, the roadway was so busy that, at one point, the boy started to run towards an oncoming truck, coming within mere feet of the vehicle.
“In the video, you can see he was about to make a left turn into traffic,” Mannino said. “At that point, my sense of urgency heightened.”
Mannino had to act fast; the toddler was swerving too erratically.
So, he stopped his patrol car and used it to block traffic from the lane the child was in. The 25-year police veteran then jumped out of his car and ran after the boy, calling after him.
But the toddler did not stop. Instead, he kept running further along the road.
The child did not respond to Mannino’s calls. Instead, the boy ran further into the middle of the road, eventually turning towards the curb.
However, despite the boy’s attempted escape, it thankfully did not take long for Mannino to catch up with him. He took the child in his arms, called the dispatcher, and walked toward his squad car.
Mere moments later, the child’s mother came running towards them.
The toddler had run off while his mother wasn’t looking.
Mannino reunited the two and let them go back home. The mother, who Mannino refused to identify, told him that her son opened the front door and ran out of the house while she wasn’t looking.
The woman was not charged with any crime as it was deemed as an accident, according to the Naperville Police.
“She was very thankful that day,” Mannino said. “She was overwhelmed.
But the mother was not the only person grateful.
Mannino’s efforts inspired people across the country.
On June 7, Mannino was also acknowledged as a hero by the Naperville Police Department and was given the department’s Life Saving Award.
The rescue garnered significant attention from social media, as well. The video of the encounter, caught on Mannino’s dashboard camera, was posted to the Naperville Police Facebook page on June 12 and has since garnered over 200,000 views.
All over the country, people saw what he did to rescue the boy and were inspired by his timely intercession and courage in the face of danger. Still, the modest Mannino wasn’t exactly comfortable with all the praise.
“It’s attention I’m not accustomed to,” Mannino told the Chicago Tribune.
Accustomed or not, though, he certainly deserves it.
Watch the full rescue below:
Last month, this youngster escaped his mother's watchful eye, left his house and was found by Sgt. Anthony Mannino running on Route 59! Luckily, no one was hurt, and we attribute that to Sgt. Mannino's observation while on patrol and quick reaction, placing his squad car and himself between the child and traffic. On June 7, Sgt. Mannino was presented the department's Life Saving Award. Well done, Sergeant.
Posted by Naperville Police Department on Monday, June 11, 2018