Child revived by lifeguard, off-duty hospital employee after nearly drowning

Witness: ‘You couldn’t move’

People enjoy the outdoor swimming pool at the Moab Recreation Aquatic Center Friday, July 5. MRAC offers comprehensive swimming lessons for children between 3 and 6 years old. The final session runs from July 8 to July 18. Photo by Doug McMurdo

A 3 year-old boy has been released from the hospital and is “doing well,” according to Grand County EMS Outreach Coordinator McKay Vowles after nearly drowning and being resuscitated by lifeguards and an off-duty hospital employee.

The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, at the Moab Recreation & Aquatic Center. The child was pulled out of the pool “unresponsive & not breathing,” according to a press release from EMS.

After successfully executing CPR on the child and regaining a pulse, first responders transported him to Moab Regional Hospital in “serious but stable condition.”

According to witness Adrienne Moore, the parents of the child were apparently from out of town. She said that there was a “language barrier” that made the situation all the scarier.

Moore said that she noticed the child running off from his family multiple times when the family arrived at the pool. She said it was the kind of situation where she wondered whether to say something to the family but ultimately didn’t.

Minutes later, the father began yelling for help as he carried his son to the side. A bystander began pushing him from behind so he could move through the water faster, according to Moore. Moore said that the child’s skin was blue.

“You couldn’t move,” Moore said, describing the experience of watching the lifeguard attempt to revive the child.

Moore froze as she watched the scene play out like a slow-motion movie, briefly looking around to locate her own children.

According to MRAC Director Terry Lewis, lifeguards began CPR on the child. An off-duty hospital employee who happened to be at the pool held in a place a protective mask on the child’s face, by instruction of MRAC staff, as the lifeguard began chest compressions.

Lewis said that the lifeguard completed one set of 30 compressions on the child, and midway through the second set, the child regained consciousness.

Onlookers, 90% of whom were crying according to Moore, began clapping as the mother picked up the child.

Moore said that even the aftermath of the incident was “scary,” as it looked like the child was lethargic and not acting normally. Lewis said that the child reached stable condition as he was taken to the hospital and was crying because the cement was hot.

“It’s a wonderful end to a really frightening story,” Lewis said of the ordeal the next day, when the child was released from the hospital.

Lewis said that the parents of the child had been following all of the rules of the pool and said they had been closely supervising the child, having only turned their back on him momentarily before he was found unresponsive.

“Our sincere gratitude to the off-duty Moab Regional Hospital employee, the Aquatic Center lifeguards, Moab Valley Fire Department, Moab City Police and the staff at Moab Regional Hospital for their roles in saving the child’s life,” EMS said in a press release.

Notes: This story has been edited to include information provided by MRAC Director Terry Lewis.

The original version of this story erroneously said that the parents of the child, according to a witness, were “out of town,” rather than the correct phrasing, which is “from out of town.”

Additionally, the off-duty hospital employee helped with CPR, not the father, as previously stated.