A 9-year-old San Jose, Calif., boy is being hailed as a hero for rescuing a drowning toddler from the bottom of a swimming pool.
A 3-year-old girl was playing on her grandfather's back in the swimming pool of an apartment complex Monday afternoon when the pair slipped to the bottom of the deep end.
Fire Captain Mary Gutierrez, who responded to the multiple 911 calls, said a woman saw the man and child after a few minutes and immediately recognized that something was wrong.
"She saw them at the bottom and she had complete confidence in her son -- she told him to dive in and help them," Gutierrez said.
The boy, fourth-grader Ishaan Singh, quickly swam to the bottom of the pool, grabbed the 3-year-old girl and pushed her to the side, where bystanders pulled her out.
Another woman, a swimming instructor conducting a private lesson at the pool, dove down and pulled out the grandfather.
None of the 10 to 12 bystanders knew CPR, Gutierrez said, but they did the best they could to revive the girl and her grandfather by pushing on their chests. She said that was the right thing to do.
"It would have been a completely different outcome if the boy and other bystanders hadn't acted so quickly," Gutierrez said. "Had an adult not observed them and the 9-year-old boy not been so brave, this incident would have had a very different ending."
The girl was released from the hospital in good condition this morning. The grandfather was still hospitalized, but his family asked that his condition not be released.
The boy will receive a citizen's award for his bravery later this year, the fire captain said.
She said Singh told her he was proud of himself for saving a life. He said it was his friend's little sister and grandfather, so he knew he had to do something.
The brother was there at the time and helped pull his 3-year-old sister from the side of the pool after Singh pushed her over. Singh told Gutierrez that the little girl was really heavy but he would do it again if he had to.
In what Gutierrez calls a remarkable coincidence, firefighters responded to a similar incident last week, at another San Jose apartment complex.
A 6-year-old girl was riding on her grandfather's shoulders when they fell to the bottom of the pool and lost consciousness, she said. They were rescued by bystanders minutes later and are making a full recovery.
As the weather starts heating up in the summer, fire departments start receiving more calls of drowning children, but incidents like these two are rare, Gutierrez said. Last week's incident was the first time in her 22-year career that the department responded to a drowning adult and child, and the fact that it has now happened twice within a week is a reminder to everybody to take pool safety seriously, she said.
"It only takes a child a few seconds to drown, even in the shallow end of the pool, so they need to be supervised 100 percent of the time," Gutierrez said. "Flotation devices are a must on children. And adults need to remember that even if we're strong and good swimmers, we could have a medical event or misjudge our abilities and put ourselves or others in danger."
No one should assume that people at the bottom of pools are just playing -- they could be in serious danger, Gutierrez said. A tragedy earlier this summer in which a woman drowned and was discovered at the bottom of the pool more than two days later highlights the fact that drowning doesn't always look like it does in the movies.
According to lifeguard Francesco Pia drowning is often a silent killer, and can go unnoticed because of widespread misunderstanding of what drowning looks like.
The two main myths about drowning are that victims will call out for help and wave their arms for attention, Pia said. It is important that parents ensure everyone in the family learns to swim and learns CPR and that they closely supervise swimming children, he said.