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SMITH: Abandoned newborn owes life to Cardinal Newman grad


As a teenager, Cardinal Newman High alum Steve Gritsch learned emergency medicine amid his training as a Bennett Valley firefighter.

That know-how, and the young man's character, came in handy early the other morning in San Francisco.

Gritsch is now 27 and an officer of the San Francisco Police Department. He and partner Matt Cloud were on patrol when, in a driving rain, a man holding a bundle waved them over shortly after 2 a.m. at a Bayview District intersection.

The man handed Officer Gritsch a blue and non-breathing newborn boy, wrapped in a jacket or sweatshirt. He said a woman gave birth about 30 minutes earlier, thrust the baby into his arms and walked away.

Officer Gritsch, now a father himself, ran for the cover of a Muni platform and commenced cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

His partner got on the two-way radio and told a dispatcher the baby might die were they to wait for an ambulance, so and he and Gritsch would head for San Francisco General Hospital with him. If an ambulance could intercept them, fine.

Cloud called to the frantic Gritsch, who hastened to the patrol car while continuing his attempt to revive the 5-pound baby.

The officers roared off for the hospital, the cruiser's tires slipping now and again on the slickened streets. Gritsch cried as he blew air into the tiny soul's lungs and pleaded with him to breathe.

When they arrived at SF General and Gritsch ran into the emergency room and set the baby down, he was moving. Hospital staff took over and soon he breathed on his own.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr called Gritsch and Cloud "absolute genuine heroes."

Other officers arrested the baby's 39-year-old mother, who will face charges related to child cruelty and neglect.

Gritsch and Cloud have since checked in on the boy. They and their buddies at the Bayview station have been pulling together some Christmas gifts for the little guy.

STEPPED ON A ROCK: In San Francisco to see the holiday lights and sights, 12-year-old Elizabeth Caughey of Kenwood was having a merely marvelous time until something extraordinary happened.

The Rincon Valley Middle School seventh-grader and her friend and the friend's folks were walking through the gloriously bedecked lobby of the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero when she stepped on something.

Something big.

"It was the hugest diamond ring," said Elizabeth's mother, Mary. The stone was generously set in platinum.

Elizabeth immediately took the find to her friend's mother. They agreed it was best to take the ring back to Santa Rosa and then set out to find its owner.

Back home, Mary Caughey examined the wedding ring and estimated that it would easily have cost $20,000. She and Elizabeth went on-line and Googled lost ... diamond ring ... San Francisco.

Up popped a fresh lost-ring post on Craigslist. Elizabeth and Mary were certain from the description in the post that they had the lost ring.

They emailed the person who'd placed the post. Soon they received a phone call from a Marin County woman overcome with relief and joy and gratitude.

She told the Caugheys she was at the Hyatt Regency the same day Elizabeth and her friends were there and she was darting about in pursuit of her 2-year-old in the lobby. When she discovered the wedding ring designed by her husband had fallen off, she searched the lobby frantically but came up empty-handed.

She and her husband and son met Elizabeth and Mary at a freeway-side Starbucks in Novato. Elizabeth didn't want a reward but the couple insisted that she and her mom accept a nice assortment of ceramics by Heath of Sausalito.

The entire experience has Mary Caughey feeling ever more awed by the power of the Internet to bring people together, and by her daughter.

"I am so over-the-moon proud of her," she said of her little gem.

(Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.)