Photo by Chelle Cates
ROWLETT, Texas - A tea party marked a memorial anniversary for a Rowlett girl and the man who saved her life.
Nearly a year ago, 2-year-old Bexley choked on a penny and stopped breathing. Rowlett Cpl. Patrick Ray was just about to go on his lunch break when heard the call about an unresponsive toddler in his area.
He was so close he decided to clock back in and raced to the call, not knowing what he'd find when arrived.
“The whole time I'm going through, I'm just playing through my head,” Ray said in an interview shortly after it happened. “I didn't know if it was a drowning. I didn't know if she was choking on something.”
His body camera captured him clearing Bexley’s airway before paramedics arrived.
“Open your mouth. Open your mouth. Thatta girl! Thatta girl!” he can be heard saying in the video.
Bexley’s mother, Tammy Norvell, said at the time she didn’t know why her little girl had gone limp and started turning blue.
“It was the scariest thing to hand her over to somebody I didn't know, but I put all my faith and all my trust in him that he knew what to do,” she said. ““It's so emotional, thinking if it weren't for him I could be picking out a casket today, living every parent’s nightmare and I'm not.”
An x-ray later showed Bexley had swallowed a penny. Her parents still don’t know where she found it.
Cpl. Ray ended up going to the hospital to check on her and the city of Rowlett presented him with a lifesaving award.
Norvell also cleaned up the coin, put it on a keychain and presented it to the officer as a memento. She said there’s no way her family could ever repay him.
As the anniversary of the incident approached, photographer Chelle Cates said Norvell contacted her and told her what happened. She said she was happy to help create Bexley's tea party with her hero as the next chapter of their story.