NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two NYPD veterans found themselves in the right place at the right time Wednesday.

They helped save a 1-year-old boy who was choking while his father, Leonardeo Escorcia, was graduating from the police academy.

“I basically thought he died,” the child’s mother Lillian Escorcia said.

She and her son, Daniel, were in the stands at Madison Square Garden waiting for his dad to walk across the stage, when the baby suddenly began choking.

“He started shaking and he looked like his eyes were rolling back,” she said.

Escorcia screamed for help as her usually bubbly baby grew pale and his lips turned blue. 

NYPD Lt. Greg Besson and Det. Mark Rubins were sitting one section away. They heard the commotion and jumped into action.

“I see the child just limp in the mother’s arms,” Besson said. “We were the first ones to make our way through the crowd and get there. At that moment, I said to myself, ‘wow, game on, this is real.’”

The men weren’t even supposed to be sitting near the Escorcias.

“We gave up our seats, because we come to NYPD events enough, that let other people enjoy it. So we took the nosebleeds,” said Besson. “I thought I would just answer some emails.”

Instead, they answered the call for help. Rubins’ 20 years as a paramedic instantly kicked in.

“I put him across my lap, gave him a bunch of back blows and chest thrusts to dislodge what was ever there,” he said. “I picked him up.”

As for dad, he bolted from backstage, skipped the ceremony he’d been waiting six months for.

“I’m so happy that he’s OK, especially being my first son,” he said.

There’s no make-up graduation, so it’s straight to the streets for Officer Escorcia in the 79th Precinct, but that’s OK with him.

Daniel was treated at St. Luke’s Hospital and is doing much better. The family says the next order of business is teaching everyone in the house CPR.

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