AKRON, Ohio — A local woman who is used to walking runways ran into action to save the life of a baby boy after witnessing a bad crash in Akron earlier this year.
For her heroic actions, Ladonya Williams, 20, of Cuyahoga Falls, received a citizen's award from Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett on Wednesday afternoon.
"You did it selflessly. You did it with the most noble of intentions and you saved a life," Mylett told Williams before presenting her with a framed certificate.
Williams began modeling at the age of 14 when she got involved in a program called Fashion Teens of Akron. She has since signed with an agency and become a professional model.
"I want to keep modeling and I want to travel like all over the world and hopefully walk runways all around the world," she said.
Around 9 p.m. on August 22, she had just wrapped up a visit with her grandmother in Akron and was a passenger in a car driven by her dad, Donny Williams, who has been an Akron police officer for 30 years.
They were on Vernon Odom Boulevard at a red light waiting to turn onto Raymond Street when suddenly they noticed a speeding Grand Cherokee coming from behind them.
According to police, the speeding vehicle went left of center and slammed into another vehicle that had begun to turn. The car Ladonya and Donny were in was not hit, but they were startled by the loud crash.
A short time later, a panicked mother got out of the wrecked SUV.
"I thought, oh my God, I didn't know what was happening. She was screaming that her child was dying and that her baby was choking," Ladonya said.
Ladonya and Donny assumed the baby had stopped breathing as a result of the car crash, but later found out he stopped breathing before then and his mother was speeding to get to a hospital.
"I just wanted him to be okay and I wanted the mother not to lose her child," Ladonya Williams said.
She quickly recalled a Red Cross first aid course she has taken when she was 18 in order to take a job in a daycare facility.
With that knowledge, she began life-saving measures on the 7-month-old baby.
"I was on my knee and I just had him like this (turned upside down) and I was just really patting his back really firmly," she said.
Moments later, the baby started breathing again, bringing relief to everyone at the accident scene.
"In that moment, I just took the mother's hand and we were just holding hands and just waited for the ambulance to arrive," she said.
The baby was taken to Akron Children's Hospital. According to the police report, the mother was cited for reckless operation for excessive speed.
Donny Williams was both stunned and proud by what his daughter did that night.
"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed, and that being my daughter, it was really, really something the next level," he said. "The universe had a different calling for her on that date."
According to a relative, the baby is now doing well. The mother of the infant declined a request to comment to News 5.
Ladonya was proud to receive the recognition by the police department, but doesn't consider what she did to be heroic.
"I don't really feel like a hero. I just feel like somebody who was able to help someone in need and I feel like it's something that anybody who could have would have done," she said.
Regardless, the police department believes the fashion model is now also a model of what to do when someone needs first aid.
Ladonya hopes the attention she is receiving inspires others to learn first aid.
"It's very important," she said. "You could save somebody's life."