Two-week-old Lucas Barreiro had spit-up coming out of his nose and mouth and he wasn't breathing. 

That's when mother Kalie Barreiro pulled him out of his car seat — next to her in a booth at Nikki's Family Restaurant during lunch Tuesday — and handed him to his great-grandmother and called 911. 

"Got to get him to breathe, got to get him to breathe," was all great-grandmother Marilou Atwell could think.

Family friend Suzanne Guill alerted restaurant staff, who in turn alerted Danville police officer Melissa Carey — who just happened to be eating lunch at the Riverside Drive restaurant. The 12-year police force veteran sprang into action as if on instinct. 

"Officer Carey came over and took over," Atwell said Wednesday morning.

Carey said she heard what sounded like a baby crying and then going quiet just before she was called on for help. She thought he was either being fed or had gone to sleep. 

"The next thing I know, I heard a waitress screaming out my name," Carey said.  

Carey performed the Heimlich maneuver on Lucas. 

"He was able to vomit and spit up in my hand," Carey said. "At that point, he was able to breathe on his own." 

Carey, who is trained in first response, didn't even think when she was alerted to the situation. 

"It just goes straight to your training," Carey said. "Muscle memory. You just go back to what you know." 

To feel Lucas begin breathing again "was amazing," she added. 

"I feel like God used me as his vessel to save that baby," Carey said. 

To say Atwell was grateful is an understatement. 

"I was just thanking God and her," Atwell said. "I just wanted to hug her. I'm just thanking God for putting her in that restaurant at that time and for that speedy response."

Kalie and Lucas were at the hospital Wednesday, so the mother was not available to answer questions for this story. 

"The child and mother are doing well," Danville Police Department Lt. Richard Chivvis said.

Atwell said it appeared Lucas was choking on breast milk and that he may have acid reflux.

"I'm definitely going to renew my CPR training," said Atwell, a former schoolteacher. She also used to work for Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services. 

Of Carey, the great-grandmother said: "She's my new best friend."  

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Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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