The Rock Hill police officer who saved a 7-month-old girl’s life earlier this year has been honored by the local Optimist Club as Officer of the Year.
Officer Rex Hernandez, a 20-year Air Force veteran before joining the Rock Hill Police Department, saved Lilly Weiss in January in a shopping center parking lot on Cherry Road after her mother screamed for help when she realized her baby had stopped breathing.
Hernandez performed CPR on Lilly in the parking lot of Love’s Plaza, with help from three city utility employees. Each man leaped into action after hearing Kayla Smith yell that her child was turning blue in the back seat and needed help.
The Rock Hill Optimist Club honored Hernandez this week during its “Respect for Law” awards ceremony. His heroic actions, officials have said, saved Lilly’s life.
Hernandez has said he went into “autopilot” on Jan. 21 when Lilly needed help. From start to finish, Hernandez said, the situation lasted no more than 40 seconds. “It was real quick. Autopilot. Boom. Done.”
The week after the incident, Piedmont Medical Center awarded Hernandez its EMS Hero Award. The Rock Hill City Council also recognized the officer and the three workers who helped – Desmond Campbell, Daah Ross and Graham Boatwright.
All four men are fathers. Campbell and Ross each have three children, ages 4 to 16. Boatwright has a 24-year-old daughter. Hernandez and his wife, Loriel, have two young children, Troy and Delanee.
Hernandez has worked at the Rock Hill Police Department since 2013.
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068