By Jean Falbo-Sosnovich
New Haven Register
SEYMOUR — The heroic actions of two Seymour police officers in saving the life of an 8-day-old baby nearly strangled to death by its mother were recognized by top law enforcement brass this week.
Sgt. David Parratt and Officer James Duda were among dozens of local and state police officers who were honored Thursday during an awards ceremony at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman lauded the award winners and police officers across the state, saying, "Every day, you look danger in the face in order to protect the residents of Connecticut."
Awards were presented by Cmsr. Reuben F. Bradford and State Police Col. Danny R. Stebbins for Lifesaving, Meritorious Service, Outstanding Service and Unit Citations. Several civilians received the Commissioners Recognition Award and Dispatcher of the Year Award.
Parratt and Duda, members of the Seymour Police Department for 16 and 10 years, respectively, were honored with Lifesaving medals for their actions in saving the baby boy during an incident that occurred on the Seymour/Beacon Falls line July 15.
The officers rushed to the aide of the near-lifeless infant during what initially was a call about a domestic dispute between a man and a woman.
According to Lt. Paul Satkowski, Duda arrived on the scene to find 23-year-old resident Ashley Donovan standing in the middle of Rimmon Hill Road tightly squeezing her newborn baby into her chest, and shouting various comments about God and Satan. As police approached Donovan, Satkowski said she became increasingly agitated, holding the baby by the head and neck.
Parratt arrived soon after and as he tried to cut Donovan off in the middle of the road, she wedged the baby into the crook of her arm like a vice, and began to choke him to the point where he was turning blue, police said. The officers ultimately wrestled Donovan to the ground, freeing the newborn from her grip. The baby suffered minor abrasions and bruises during the incident, and after being treated at the hospital, was released into the custody of his father.
Satkowski had said there was no doubt Donovan's "intent was to kill the baby," and if not for the quick actions of Duda and Parratt, the baby would not be alive today.
Donovan, whose attorney said she was suffering from post-partum depression, was charged with second-degree strangulation, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, risk of injury to a minor, breach of peace and interfering with an officer.
Satkowski was thrilled to see the officers recognized by the state.
"They responded the way they were trained to in the very difficult situation they were faced with, and they did a phenomenal job," Satkowski said. "The child is alive today, thanks to their efforts."
Parratt and Duda were among good company at the ceremony, which also included honors to two off-duty Connecticut police officers who assisted 10 severely wounded victims of the Boston Marathon bombings last April.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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