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Cop attends wedding of girl he saved 20 years ago

A police officer from Yonkers, N.Y., saved a baby's life 20 years ago. Now, he is attending her wedding
Cop attends wedding of baby he saved 20 years ago 04:04

Captain Joseph Barca has been on the Yonkers police force for 45 years. In that time, he's saved over a dozen lives and helped rescue victims trapped at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But it was one rescue of one small baby that this cop said is the highlight of his career, CBS News correspondent Lee Woodruff reports.

At a Chicago park on Saturday, the Hamideh and Salah families had everything: great food, games for the kids. Some relatives traveled from as far as the West Bank to attend the wedding weekend.

But the honored guests, Barca and his wife, drove from New York to see the young bride, Shammarah Hamideh.

Hamideh can't wait celebrate with her family and the officer.

"They love him. They're excited to see him," Hamideh said. "Everybody couldn't wait for this day just so they could see him and his wife Helen."

Barca and Hamideh CBS News

In December 1993, Sergeant Barca responded to a house call that came in for a child not breathing.

Shamarra's older brothers Ahmad and Ali remember the day in vivid detail.

"I remember my mother yelling from the top of her lungs for my father: 'Shama! Shama! Shama! She is not breathing, she's choking!' Lifeless," Ahmad said.

"I took the child from the parents and checked for vital signs. Found none," Barca said. "I jumped into the backseat of the car with the baby, still doing CPR for the ride to the hospital."

By the time they arrived, her throat was cleared. Her heart began beating again. Baby Shama was breathing on her own.

"Her dad expected to hear the worst from me," Barca said. "And I said to him, 'Do you hear that baby crying?' And he said 'Yeah.' And I said, 'That's your baby crying', and he just broke down from there."

Joe and Helen never lost touch with the Hamidehs after the family moved to Buffalo. They treat Shama like a daughter.

"Every year they have never missed my birthday," Shamarra said. "And for Christmas they always send a card and a check and a letter. They're just so sweet. It's the thought that counts really."

When Barca was invited to Shamarra's wedding, he knew he simply had to attend.

Barca and Hamideh CBS News

"I said, 'Not my little baby! Of course I'll be there,'" Barca told CBS News.

Sunday, Joe honored his promise to see Shamarra walk down the aisle. For him, saving the bride's life was a career-defining moment.

"This one ranks up on top, and I go out there for a reason, and the reason is to help people," Barca said.

Shamarra wants to follow in Barca's footsteps.

"It makes me want to save peoples lives just like he saved my life," she said. "Maybe I can be in someone's life in twenty years later, just as he was."

She might get that chance, recently graduating from nursing school.

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