Alessandra Rossi remembers every detail of the morning her 11-month old baby, Mia, stopped breathing.
It was early on May 27, her birthday, when she went to feed her daughter a bottle and instantly realized something was wrong.
“She was blue and not responding,” Rossi recalled. “I panicked.”
Rossi, who was staying at the MIA Hotel at the Miami airport, called downstairs for help.
Jose Consuegra, who works at the hotel’s front desk, answered and called 911. Meanwhile, Rossi rushed downstairs with her lifeless baby.
Consuegra, who is trained in pediatric CPR, jumped right into action. After a few rounds, Mia cried.
“It was the best sound,” Rossi said.
For his heroic efforts, Consuegra was named MIA’s 2017 Employee of the Year Thursday at the airport’s annual ceremony to recognize employees who go beyond their normal duties.
Several other employees who also were recognized include a worker who helped a disoriented, elderly passenger find her way, and two workers who helped a man track down his carry-on bag that he left in a taxi.
The announcement came as a surprise to the 25-year-old Consuegra. As an added surprise, Rossi and Mia were there to thank him in person.
“You were my angel,” Rossi said to Consuegra on Thursday night after they were reunited for the first time since the May medical scare. Both were crying as they hugged.
Ginny Gutierrez, the director of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization that funded the surprise visit, said it was important to make the reunion happen.
“When customer service turns into saving a life, that’s when you realize how valuable customer service is,” she said.
Rossi said Mia spent several weeks at Nicklaus Children's Hospital before being able to go home to Haiti, but she is “doing great.”
Consuegra, who is a flight attendant and works part time at the hotel, said when he saw Rossi carrying the distressed Mia, he didn’t hesitate to help.
“You just do what you are trained to do,” said Consuegra, who cried when he saw Mia.
He said he often thought about her and wanted to meet her. He had no idea that Thursday would be the night.
“It was very emotional for me,” he said. “My nephew was born premature and we went through a very rough time. I knew what her mother must have been feeling.”
Mia, now 17 months old, held her mother tight as she stood next to Consuegra.
She said she will never forget the day Mia was saved at MIA.
“He is part of our family now,” she said.