Coming full circle: New police officer sworn in by officer who saved him as a baby

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Officials swore in a brand-new Perth Amboy police officer Wednesday who wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for another Perth Amboy officer.

Officer Kenneth Puccio, now retired, was on patrol one night in 1989 when he was flagged down by a frantic mother parked on the side of the road. The mother told Puccio that her 14-month-old son was having a febrile seizure, was not breathing and had no pulse.

Puccio did CPR on the boy – Lionel Tejera – and saved the boy’s life.

“The next day I woke up and was like, ‘Wow, did that really happen?’” Puccio remembers.

Puccio was celebrated by the mayor, got his name in the newspaper and was lauded as a hero. He still has the thank you card that Tejera’s mother Carmen Morales sent him 30 years ago.

Morales says that she thanks the officer every day.

“He’s here today because of you,” she tells Puccio. “I always think that. I always will.”

Wednesday was a particularly special day because it was the day that Tejera was sworn in as a Perth Amboy police officer, just like Puccio once was. Tejera was even given Puccio’s old badge number, No. 111. Puccio was right by his side.

Tejera says that this is nothing new. Puccio has always been by his side since saving his life.

“Throughout my whole life he has been there for me. He's never missed a moment,” says Tejera.

“I was put there that night for a reason. And that reason was for you to be here this day, Lionel,” Puccio says.

Tejera will report for duty as the newest Perth Amboy police officer Monday morning.

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