MIAMI (WSVN) - A City of Miami Police officer received a special honor for his courageous actions in saving the life of a boy on the autism spectrum, something that hits close to home for him.

7News cameras captured Miami Police Officer Ernesto Fernandez during a ceremony held by the Friendship Circle Miami, Wednesday morning.

“You gotta save a life first, then think about the rest,” he said after the ceremony.

Body camera video of that day captured Fernandez’s quick thinking as he saved a drowning child with autism from a river in Miami, July 19.

In the footage, Fernandez was seen springing into action, rescuing the child from the water and providing immediate assistance. The child’s life was in danger, but his response saved the day.

The Friendship Circle Miami, an organization dedicated to providing friendship and acceptance to individuals with special needs, recognized Fernandez’s bravery and commitment to serving the community.

“I know you jumped out of your car because you knew what that child really is,” said Rabbi Yossi Harling of Friendship Circle Miami.

Fernandez’s act carried a deeper significance as he himself is a parent to a 4-year-old son with autism. His understanding of the challenges faced by families with special needs made his rescue even more poignant.

“One of the greatest fears that parents have raising a child on the spectrum — and if you’re raising a child you know exactly what I’m talking about — is your child will be somewhere, and the person won’t understand their action,” said Harling.

The Miami officer’s compassion and dad intuition gave the child a second chance at life.

Fernandez said the experience has changed his life.

“As a parent, it made me feel good that I was there, as an officer, as a person, as a human being,” he said.

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