Newburgh Heights officer in the right place at the right time, saves toddler on roof

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NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio – In the right place at the right time, a Newburgh Heights police officer on patrol spotted a toddler dangling dangerously close to the edge of a roof Wednesday morning and stepped in to help.

“I heard what sounded like a child crying, moaning almost, so I looked out my window and did a double take and thought, ‘did I just see what I just saw?’” Officer Mike Marniella said.

Marniella saw the 18 month-old sitting at the edge of the porch roof of a home on East 41st Street. With his body camera recording, he directed the toddler, AJ, to stay in place and got the mother’s attention. He said he dreaded what could’ve happened.

“I'm thinking, the gutter's going to break or he's just he's going to fall,” Marniella recalled.

Marniella said he stood below to catch AJ in case he did fall, as his mother grabbed him and brought him to the home’s porch. Visibly shaken, she said she was cleaning when AJ must’ve crawled over a bed and out an upstairs window, onto the roof top. The toddler was not hurt.

“I’m just glad this officer was driving by at the perfect moment,” father Anthony Gonzalez said Thursday, thanking the Newburgh Heights Police Department. “That was very fortunate.”

No one will face charges for the incident, which police are calling an accident. Marniella said it’s a reminder for parents to be cautious with kids around open windows. Experts suggest using window guards or opening windows from the top down, as well as moving furniture away from windows to keep kids from crawling out.

“It’s not all about being out there writing tickets,” Marniella said. “We have an obligation to serve this community any way we can, and I’m just glad I was able to maybe avert an injury to a child.”