AVON, Ohio - When police officers report for duty, they never know where the job will take them. On Tuesday, the job took two Avon patrolmen to a place they may never forget.
Officers Chuck Levell and George Ruple were chasing a robbery suspect down Detroit Road at 65 mph when dispatch told them the suspect had a baby in the car.
"Twelve years in law enforcement and I've never had that experience where I was advised there was a baby in a fleeing vehicle," Ruple said. "So it was a shock."
Levell said he immediately called off the case, but seconds later the suspect's car crashed. The car started smoking and there was glass everywhere. When the officers approached the vehicle, they saw the baby inside crying.
"It was unreal," Ruple said. "I saw the child and the eyes just looking up at you. It was upset."
Ruple and Levell would later learn that the suspect, 30-year-old Josue Rodriguez, had the 10-month-old boy with him in a stroller at Kohl's in Avon Commons when he allegedly stole eight or nine pieces of men's athletic clothing.
The crash apparently knocked Rodriguez unconscious. Officer Levell pulled him out of the car while Officer Ruple got the baby.
"I picked the child up, tried to support its neck and take it out of a situation where I wasn't sure if the vehicle was going to catch fire and there were shards of glass everywhere," he said. "It was an instant connection. He stopped crying. I picked him up. He went to grasp me like I was a parent. He was very attentive, looking around."
The officers said the baby is OK and with his mother, while his father remains in jail under $100,000 bond.
"He not only put himself and the child in danger," Lavelle said, "but everybody else who was on the road including myself and Officer Ruple."
Rodriguez struck a total of four cars during the chase and forced a fifth car off the road.
The officers are grateful to all of the bystanders who jumped in to assist them, including people who were inside one of the cars that Rodriguez hit.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Lorain Co. Headlines
A suspect has been named in connection to a Lorain 17-year-old's death. Officials also say the teen died from a single gunshot wound to his head.
While investigators continue to look into the death of 17-year-old Deandre McDowell, his father makes arrangements to bury the teen.