City honors Garden Grove Police officer for delivering, reviving baby

By Greg Hardesty

He thought of his own kids, and how happy he was seeing them as newborns.

That’s what was going through a veteran Garden Grove cop’s head when he walked into Garden Grove Medical Center late last year to visit a couple and their just-born son.

Master Officer Charles Starnes had seen the couple and the baby hours earlier, but in a more pressing situation.

At 6:45 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2104, Starnes was on patrol and in the area of the Hospitality Inn, 7900 Garden Grove Boulevard, when a call came in to dispatch:

A woman was unexpectedly going into labor in a room at the inn.

Starnes quickly was on scene.

When he walked into the room, plastic gloves on, the baby’s head was crowning.

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin and Master Officer Charles Starnes at the Garden Grove City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 10. Photo courtesy of City of Garden Grove.

Garden Grove Police Chief Todd Elgin and Master Officer Charles Starnes at the Garden Grove City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 10. Photo courtesy of City of Garden Grove.

Starnes placed his hands around the baby’s head and helped the mother deliver the baby as the father, who made the 911 call, anxiously looked on.

But the baby was blue and not breathing.

Starnes turned the baby over and cleared his airway by striking his back. The baby then was able to breathe, turned a healthy pink color and started to cry.

Measuring 20 inches long and weighing 6.9 pounds, the baby, named Jackson, was taken to Garden Grove Medical Center with his mother.

Starnes, who has served as a Police Explorer Advisor and has worked on the Career Criminal Apprehension Team as well as the SWAT team, said that when he saw baby Jackson with his parents at the hospital, it brought back memories of his own children.

He wondered if his smile then was as big as the smiles of Jackson’s parents, who had just moved to California from Arizona.

On Tuesday this week, the Garden Grove City Council recognized Starnes for his heroic actions.

“To actually touch a life as it comes into the world” was an experience that rarely, if ever, occurs in an officer’s career, Starnes said at the Feb. 10 City Council meeting.

Starnes, a 10-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department, called the experience the most rewarding, by far, of his career.

Chief Elgin and Master Officer Starnes embrace. Photo courtesy City of Garden Grove.

Chief Elgin and Master Officer Starnes embrace. Photo courtesy City of Garden Grove.