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Roy Oliver, assistant director of Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety Communicators, gives Christopher Vanegas, 2, a fist bump during the department’s 7th annual Safety Communications Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 9 at the Fairfax County Government Center. Oliver recognized Cynthia Almendarez, 10, (center, holding Christopher’s hand) for saving Christopher’s life by calling 9-1-1 and translating CPR instructions from English to Spanish when her nephew stopped breathing last summer. Standing with Almendarez (from left): her sister, Maria Celaura Almendarez, 12; her mother, Maria Isabel Almendarez; Cheryl Dean, the 9-1-1- dispatcher who took her call; and Digna Suyapa Vanegas, Christopher’s mother.

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Franconia Fifth Grader Honored for Saving Nephew’s Life

Cynthia Almendarez, 10, called 9-1-1 when nephew, 2, stopped breathing.

On the morning of July 13, 2011, Franconia Elementary fifth-grader Cynthia Almendarez was at home with her mother and 12-year-old sister when she noticed something odd. Her 18-month-old nephew, Christopher, who was usually cruising around the house and making typical toddler sounds, was quiet and gasping for breath.


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