TRACY, Calif. -- Robert Cathey, a reserve police officer for San Francisco, was at home playing football in February with his younger brother when he heard a man down the street screaming for help.
Cathey immediately ran down the street and saw a man emerge from a backyard holding his lifeless child, 16-month-old Sayeed Anwar.
"When I first saw the little boy he was not breathing, his eyes were rolled back and he was bluish in color," Cathey said. "I started doing CPR, and during the third cycle of chest compressions the child coughed up water and started to cry."
For his heroic actions that day, Cathey was met with a standing ovation when he appeared at the Tracy City Council meeting this week to receive a commendation from police Chief Gary Hampton.
It was Cathey's quick thinking and CPR skills that saved Sayeed, who had nearly drowned in his family's backyard koi pond.
"It's good to see the little boy running around and playing now," Cathey said. "I'm glad it all worked out."
Sayeed's parents know what a close call they had. After Cathey received the commendation at the podium on Tuesday, a man on the opposite side of the room stood up. He clutched his little boy and said, "Thank you, Robert."
When the crowd realized it was the rescued boy and his father, Zab Anwar, it broke into applause.
Afterward, the family and Sayeed's rescuer gathered in the lobby of City Hall for a brief reunion.
"Robert is an angel and our hero," says Maria Anwar, mother of the now 17-month-old toddler.
"There are no words that can describe our appreciation for Robert," Zab Anwar said. "We can never repay him or thank him enough for what he did.
"Today I get to watch my son run around laughing and playing," he added. "I look at life with a different perspective now. God gave us a second chance to enjoy our little boy."