La Habra Police Officer Anthony Luster was two hours into his graveyard shift when he changed a family’s life forever.
At 8:00 p.m., on Thursday January 14th, Luster was in the area of the “Gary Center” a public park, found on a cul-de-sac on Hillcrest Street.
As he chatted with the people in the park, he could hear a family just across the street. It sounded like they were getting ready for dinner. He could hear them talking, the clanking of kitchen utensils and the sounds of children playing.
A few moments later the talking turned to screams and they were screams of panic. Officer Luster ran to the home and peered into the window.
“When I looked in I could see a man, he was stone face. I knew something was wrong”, Officer Luster explained. “It was then that, some guy came out and told me his grandpa wasn’t breathing … so, I went inside the house.”
Officer Luster, recently began his career with the La Habra Police Department in October of 2019. He was in his final days of training and ready to be a solo officer. He was trained in the academy about medical emergencies and CPR. Officer Luster attended the Golden West Police Academy, where they emphasized CPR Training.
Little did he know how valuable it would be.
When he stepped inside the home on that early evening, his training kicked in and he knew exactly what to do.
“When I got inside everyone was hovered all around the gentleman who was now laying on the floor, so I pushed my way through and started asking questions. He was not breathing,” Officer Luster said. “I started by giving him a few compression’s and he started shallow breathing and gasping for air which led me to believe he was choking on something.”
The family at this point had already called 911 and paramedics were on the way, but Officer Luster had begun life-saving efforts. He placed the man in a recovery position and then he was able to do a modified Heimlich until he felt the man grip his arm.
“I was able to dislodge the obstruction so he could breathe again. The man didn’t even know what had happened to him. He just went unconscious. It was his 67th birthday, he was eating and then he was on the floor,” said Officer Luster, 28. “I was literally at the right place at the right time.”
The La Habra resident, Jose Fuerta, was taken to the local hospital by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, where he was released shortly after.
“My dad starting coughing and that caused him to choke,” said Raymundo Fuerta, Jose’s son. “We could see he wasn’t breathing, but we didn’t know what to do. My son saw the Officer (outside) and went to get him. The Officer came in and took care of things quickly. He moved us out of the way and took care of things. Thank God the officer was at the park.”
The responding paramedics called the Watch Commander on duty, Sergeant Eric Ocampo, and informed him Officer Luster saved Mr. Fuerta’s life by reacting so quickly.
“These types of situations can turn tragic quickly, we are happy to hear Mr. Fuerta is recovering well. The women and men of the La Habra Police Department are trained to quickly provide life-saving measures when necessary. Officer Luster’s actions are a great example of that,” Captain Adam Foster said,