Andrew’s Story

My nine-year old son Andrew drowned.

It’s still hard for me to say this out loud, so that is why I put it first. It’s been four weeks and six days since it happened.

My son drowned and was brought back to life by strangers who had CPR training.

He was brought back to life.

He is alive.

We are so blessed. God had everybody where they needed to be for Andrew’s life to be saved. I can’t tell you how destroyed we would have been if anything had gone differently that day. My heart came so close to being obliterated. Even now, it feels like shattered glass in a picture frame. It’s still there. It’s still whole. But shattered, nonetheless.

I’ve been feeling the need to share Andrew’s story. With summer coming and people spending more time in and on the water I’m feeling nervous and afraid for everyone. I want everyone to know that drowning is not like in the movies with splashing and waving.

It happened so fast and so silently.

Water safety has always been important to my husband and me; therefore our kids have taken swimming lessons for the past several years. We spent half of last summer in a pool. Our kids are familiar with and not afraid of water.

This story begins with a family weekend get-together. Every year, we get together with Michael’s extended family the weekend before Thanksgiving at a place we call “The Lodge.” Between 40 and 50 of us gather and we always have a blast and truly look forward to it every year. My kids usually start asking for a countdown in March and pack for it in July. After this long, cold winter we all decided we missed each other and that we should get together for a weekend this spring.

We decided to go to Sioux Falls, SD to a hotel water park the last weekend in April. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles could sit around and chat while kids are entertained with water and cousins. Friday evening was spent just so, cocktails in hand, catching up on everybody’s news and counting kids as they ran by.

There was a 1 ft deep pool with a really cool pirate ship, a couple hot tubs, a 5 ft pool, and a two-story waterslide that emptied into a 3.5 ft pool. Our older three kids spent the entire evening on the water slide. Dutch hung out mostly at the pirate ship.


On Saturday morning, Michael and I took our four kids (Andrew – 9, Josephine – 8, Eleanor – 6, Dutch – 4) to Walmart to buy a life vest for our youngest. We ended up letting each of the kids pick out a water toy. Andrew decided on a mask and snorkel set because he doesn’t like water in his nose.

Back at the hotel, the kids resumed their play from the night before. This time, Dutch, armed with his life vest, took on the water slide. His siblings took turns helping him over to the side of the pool to get back out and do it again.

Michael’s cousin Joy and her husband Ryan, who live in Sioux Falls had just bought a new house and invited us to go for a tour. We were all excited to see it and about 12 of us decided to carpool over. While Mike stayed behind to watch the kids, I hopped in the car with Joy. Right before I left, I gave Michael some ibuprofen from my purse, because his back molar had been aching and bothering him the last couple of days.

Michael was sitting near the end of the water slide, watching our kids and their cousins go up and down, up and down.

After a while, some of the kids ventured into a nearby pool and started playing a game. Andrew and Josephine joined them. Dutch sat on the edge of the pool with his feet in the water. Since the kids were further away, Michael got up from his chair intending to go to the bar (that was closer to the pool the kids were in) for a glass of water to take the medicine and to find Eleanor.

As he walked past the five foot pool that three-fourths of our kids were playing in,  he paused at the far corner trying to locate Eleanor. She was supposed to be playing in the pirate ship pool. When he could not see her, he looked back at the deep pool trying to see if she had joined her siblings. He saw Josephine swimming across the pool, Dutch sitting on the side, Andrew using his new mask, and 13yo Mitchell and some of the other cousins were playing water games. No Eleanor.

He looked back at the pirate ship, then back at Andrew. He was thinking it was surprising that Andrew was in the deep pool, he hadn’t really liked deep water last summer. This raised his suspicions.

Looking closer at Andrew now, Michael could not recall seeing him come up for air. His goggles had come above the surface of the water but not his mouth. Something seemed off, so Michael walked up the side of the pool to get a closer look at the kids.

By this time, Andrew had shifted from the center of the pool and was closer to the side. He was now face-up as if looking at the ceiling through the water. Even now, Michael still thought Andrew could possibly be playing, but thought it was weird that he  hadn’t seen him come up for air yet.  Had he missed it when he looked away?

Then he saw bubbles and Andrew starting to sink.

Michael was now scared something was really wrong. Since Andrew was within arms reach of Mitchell, Michael had him pull Andrew up from underwater and Michael lifted him out. As soon as Andrew broke the surface he knew something was very, very wrong. He was blue in the face and completely limp.

Michael can still hear Josephine’s terrified scream when she saw her brother coming out of the water.

He wasn’t breathing.  He had no pulse.

He was dead.

Mike gave him a couple breaths but nothing happened. People started running over. Two strangers, who had medical training, took over CPR and revived Andrew. After one round of CPR, Andrew vomited and water started gushing out of his body.

Andrew was brought back to life.

EMTs arrived, although we have no idea who called them.

I hadn’t been gone even ten minutes and never actually made it to Joy’s house; we got a phone call about the situation and started coming back immediately. I was so glad I was with Joy who knew her way around the city. She drove me straight to the hospital where I waited for the ambulance to arrive. What was minutes seemed like hours.

The medical staff assured us we had the best outcome possible. They called him Miracle Boy. Reviving a drowning victim on scene is the best case scenario. We were so lucky. We are so blessed.

They were concerned about pulmonary edema so Andrew needed to stay in the hospital overnight. Mike’s parents and sister took care of our other three children so that we could both be with him. He was put on hi-flow oxygen to help dry out his lungs. He was alert and talking but still didn’t seem to be himself yet.


When we could talk to him about what happened, we got the story from his perspective. He said that he got into the pool and pushed off from the side, got to the middle and put his feet down, expecting to touch bottom. The pool was deeper than he had realized and his body panicked. It was as simple and gut-wrenching as that.

He had gotten in at the 5ft end of the pool, not the 3.5ft depth that he’d been in the whole time we were there. His head went underwater and he never resurfaced.

He had touched the bottom of the pool with his foot but couldn’t get back up to the surface. He tried reaching out for a cousin but couldn’t make his body move.

He was in a pool with half a dozen kids who know and love him and no one knew what was going on. It happened so fast and so quietly.

Andrew’s night in the hospital went smoothly and by morning he was back to his usual self. It was such a relief to see him, the real him, again.

We are so lucky and so very, very blessed. And yet there’s a grief that has its grip on my heart. Grief for what did happen and grief for what so very nearly happened. I have my son. Our family is still complete. I am grateful beyond words.

I know I can get through anything, even this strange grateful-grief, as long as I have them.

I consider Michael, Mitchell and those who performed CPR on Andrew to be earthly angels. They are heroes to me.  Michael won’t hear that, will not believe that of himself. He’s too filled with dread for how closely things were timed. What if he had gotten to the side of the pool even 30 seconds later?

I have many more stories and many more things to say about the incident. The phone call we got in the car and the anxiety I feel every time the phone rings now. How family members took the younger cousins back in the pool, one-on-one, later that day so they wouldn’t be scared of water. Dutch’s warning when we took Andrew swimming the next week, “Don’t go underwater and die!” The tears and pain in my husband’s eyes when he whispered, “If we had lost him, how could you ever have forgiven me?” Would not only our son, but our marriage have been lost, too?

Those are stories for another day. But for now what I really want to say is this: Please, please, please keep an eye on your kids in the water.  Take a CPR class.  You can’t prevent every bad thing from happening but you certainly can be prepared on how to deal with it.


118 thoughts on “Andrew’s Story

  1. mistycomo says:

    Rachel that made me cry. I am so happy that you are all here and in one piece. You guys are a strong couple, strong family and I know you will get through it. What a great PSA though and a great reminder.

    • Thanks, Misty! We’re already so much better than we were that first week afterwards. Time will heal us.

      • D Conley says:

        did I miss it? Michael was looking for Eleanor when he discovered Andrew’s situation…..but where was Eleanor?

      • Sorry! I forgot to wrap up that part of the story. Eleanor was fine; she was on the back side of the pirate ship where Mike couldn’t see her. And it’s a good thing, too, since that is why he paused and looked more closely at the pool. Thank you for asking about her!

  2. Heather Knox says:

    I’ve read it four times now, and my eyes well up with tears each time. I cannot imagine the terror and heartache. Thank God Andrew is alive, and thank God for CPR-trained people there at the right time.

  3. Justine Carlson says:

    Rachel ~ I heard about this horribly scary situation and the most wonderful of outcomes from Pr. John at church. Your family has been in my prayers. Thank you for sharing…you just never know what can happen. So grateful for your happy ending!

  4. Nikki Kachelmyer says:

    I can’t imagine the terror you and Mike went through. Thanks for sharing your story. And thank God for your happy ending!

  5. Tammy U says:

    Just now saw this Rachel. My laptop died. I’ve been using Kayla’s only sporadically. Your words so clearly express a lot of the feelings we are having since losing Jackson. I have used the word “shattered” in describing my heart over and over again. So glad God let us keep Andrew. Not sure I could have survived losing another child in our family. You and Michael’s love for each other, for your kids and the way you are able to verbalize it so the world can be blessed by it is inspiring and encouraging. Love you SO MUCH! Tam

  6. Tammy, your words have me in tears. I think of you and your family everyday. Your pain is a million times worse and I think you are so brave and so strong. Your faith in God after losing Jackson constantly inspires me. I love you so much! I hope to see you soon.

  7. Sarah Day says:

    Thanks for sharing this important reminder about water safety. I have a nine-year-old boy so your story really struck a chord. Best wishes to you and your family.

  8. Thank you, Sarah. Best wishes to you and yours as well!

  9. Anna says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. My daughter went under once and luckily I was right there to jump in and get her out…it was by far the scariest thing I had encountered. And it is so true, it happens quietly and unexpectedly. God bless you and your family.

  10. Alexandra says:

    My daughter almost drowned at this same pool during a birthday party held there. Thank God for the woman who noticed something was wrong and saved her.

  11. Dana Larsen says:

    Praise God Andrew was surrounded by angels that day. I firmly believe that God puts angels in our path to see each one of us through each day! Water safety is imperative as you acknowledged, CPR training is priceless and we adults are put on this earth to protect our children. Though accidents happen, God wasn’t ready to take Andrew home to heaven. I believe HE knew how much your family cherished him. Best wishes in the days ahead, your story will help save lives. Thank You!!!

  12. Thank you, Dana, for your kind words. We tell Andrew that God must have a very special plan for his life. I hope that sharing his story does save lives. You never know what accidents you prevent!

  13. shirley says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. So many times I have heard people say, “Oh, my kids have had swimming lessons.” I know to some I may seem like an overly cautious, paranoid mother but when there are so many kids in a pool it is hard to tell what is play and what is serious. I too have been at that same hotel, as well as others and I have to say I feel anxious every time we go to any pool. So thankful your son made a full recovery. I too believe that God puts angels in our paths.

  14. Sasha says:

    Dear parents, my friend forwarded this message to me. This is so bizaare I recieved your post. I believe it was myself and an ICU nurse from Watertown,sd that revived your son that day!! I think of him often, and wonder if there is a reason he was brought into my life. The front desk let us know he was doing ok. I believe your son had the work of his guardian angel that day. We were getting ready to go home around the exact time that occured, but decided to stay a little longer for some reason. I am deeply touched to see and hear your son is doing well. God is good!

    • Sasha!!!!! I’m so glad this post got to you. I am in tears. I really cannot thank you enough. There are no words to describe my gratitude. You are my hero! Thank God you were there and decided to stay a little longer. God is indeed good! If you are so inclined to be in touch, my e-mail address is I would love to hear more about the day from your perspective. To my utter disbelief, this post has traveled the globe and more than 7,000 people have read it. Think of how many other people will watch their children so much more closely in the water and perhaps take CPR classes because of your wonderful work that day. I will be forever grateful to you.and the ICU nurse (I have his name but no contact info) who saved my son. Saved our family, really. Thank you so much for commenting here.

  15. Peg says:

    I am so glad your story had a happy outcome. My oldest brother, Mike, and his wife, Margaret, lost their only son (their firstborn) in 1976. They were at a wedding reception at a home that had a backyard pool Josh was 17 months old at the time, and just followed the older kids outside to the yard, where they were playing. Mom thought he was with dad, and dad thought he was with mom.. Josh had been to the pool at the park with his parents, so was not afraid of a pool. He had not had swimming lessons… he just walked into the pool on the deep end, spose he was used to someone catching him, but this was in September and no one was swimming. They say he probably never came up three times.. he probably never came up once he hit the water. No one knew CPR. The closest hospital was over half hour away.. no one really knows how long he was in the pool before they discovered he was missing. They never had another son. I had my oldest daughter in 1978, and watching her grow, I often wondered what Josh would be like.. my kids weren’t even allowed in a wading pool without wings on and me present, until I could afford swimming lessons for them. The lessons help, but CPR is the most important. My brother could have taken training at his job, but it costed $25.00 back then and a young, just starting out family, with another baby on the way, they decided they couldn’t afford it and why would they need it anyway? I know my brother blamed himself for a long time. That $25.00 was a lot less than the funeral.. and the other costs on their lives. I am so very glad yours was a happy story.. so very very glad.. bless all that helped..

  16. Melissa says:

    My son’s best friend drowned at our soccer beach party almost one year ago. He was 13 years old and a big, strong kid. He, too, showed no signs of a struggle, nor did he ever call for help. There were 10 adults and 15-20 kids all right there. We had no idea anything was wrong. We are crushed by the loss of this amazing young man.
    I am so thankful for you that your son survived and that you have shared your story.

  17. Angie says:

    Thank you for this. Praise the Lord he made it through!!!

  18. Jennifer B says: Such a lifesaver and so glad your son is ok! My 16 month old and 38 month old can float/swim due to these lessons.

  19. debi says:

    I am just shaking. This is so hard to read. My daughter just left the house with her 2 little girls. # and 9 months. Guess where they are going? I worry because my daughter isn’t as on the ball as she should be with her kids. Thank you for sharing this story. I am going to call them before they get to the pool and remind her what can happen and how fast it can happen. I am so happy for you that you had a happy ending. God Bless,debi

  20. Suebob says:

    How terrifying. When my dad was in the hospital, I was witness to a family who had lost their toddler to drowning in a hot tub. It was one of the worst things I have ever seen. I’m so glad your outcome was different.

  21. samantha f. says:

    Having saved a 4-year-old from drowning last summer, this hit me like a ton if bricks. I relive this regularly. I relive his mom’s screams, the whole scenario and the eerie-ness of not being completely sure of what was (is) happening. Drowning is absolutely terrifying.

    I am so very very grateful that your son was saved.

  22. samantha f. says:

    Having saved a 4-year-old from drowning last summer, this hit me like a ton if bricks. I relive this regularly. I relive his mom’s screams, the whole scenario and the eerie-ness of not being completely sure of what was (is) happening. Drowning is absolutely terrifying.

    The family whose house this happened at is hosting another party this year and have hired a lifeguard; i think this absolutely brilliant of them.

    I am so very very grateful that your son was saved.

    Parents: teach your children to swim. Teach them about pool safety. The reality is that drowning is quiet, and doesn’t look like drowning. Even if your like a hawk watching your children, it’s incredibly easy to miss the signs. Teach them to protect themselves.

  23. My kids are in 4 weeks of swimming lessons right now because we put it off WAY WAY too long. My #1 request? “When will they practice treading water where they can’t touch bottom?”

    I am so scared of exactly the panic you described.

    So happy and grateful that you shared this story. It is a solid reminder for us to keep an eye on our kids regardless of swimming ability. Oh, and your poor husband. As soon as I wrote the second sentence of this paragraph, my heart hurt for him. This could have happened to anyone. Seriously, anyone.

  24. My heart was in my throat throughout, even though I knew the outcome was a good one, because you’re absolutely right, it can happen to anyone. So so scary. And so very grateful your son is alright.

  25. growingupmo says:

    We have a pool in our backyard. I watched my kids like a hawk but even then, I can’t watch all three at the same time. My youngest (4.5) had an incident a few weeks ago where IF I hadn’t been staring at him at the exact right moment, he would have slid under the water without making a peep. Luckily, I was looking right at him, saw the panicked look as he started to slide under and was close enough to grab him right up. He was fine (and me too) but THANK YOU for the pool safety reminder.

  26. Katie says:

    I’m new to your blog and was referred here from a friend on Facebook. I’m commenting for a different reason than most of the commenters, so bear with me a minute. My son suffered an accident earlier this year, not pool related, but similarly terrifying (brain bleed, 3 nights in the hospital). Reading what you said about the grateful-grief rings so true with me as well. For me, it has been a mixture of grateful-grief and guilt. And if I can offer you some unsolicited advice from someone two months further into this nightmare, I just want to suggest talking with your husband and if you guys think it would help, with a therapist. My son’s injury occurred on my watch and while my husband never blamed me, I still carry a lot of guilt and though I don’t know him and this is totally presumptuous, I wouldn’t be surprised if your husband feels similarly. Make sure that it’s okay for both of you to talk honestly and openly and give yourselves time to rest and heal. Things might be scary for a while, it still is sometimes for me, but it gets easier with time. Hope I’m not overstepping too much with this advice, it’s just something I wish someone had told me earlier.

    I’m so glad your son is going to be okay and that you’re able to tell his story and hopefully save lives in the process.

    • Thank you, Katie, for your kind and thoughtful words. I really do appreciate them. We have been talking about incident often and doing whatever we can to alleviate each other’s anxiety. I hope your son is okay and that you are healing, too. Thank you again!

  27. Pam Johnson says:

    My family was actually there when this happened. My 2 children were actually in the pool also. We tried to find out what happened to that little boy & never found out! My kids often tell this story & we have used it as a teaching tool! I am so thankful that everything turned out so wonderful! We will never forget it!

    • Hi Pam! I’m so glad this post got to you. I know if I had been in your shoes, I would have wondered forever what happened afterwards. I’m also glad you’ve used it as a teaching tool. That’s great! Best wishes to you all.

  28. Jenniffer Steele says:

    You were truly blessed by the hand of God. My husband a retired police officer told me that he once responded to the drowning death of a child. That child was in a pool with over 50 relatives in it. It only takes a second and it can happen within arm’s reach.

  29. Courtney Greene says:

    Hello- our family was just arriving at the Ramada when your son was being revived. I remember hearing terrified screaming as we entered the side entrance but didn’t think a whole lot of it until we saw the crowd and deserted pool as we made our way to check in. We did not know until later that it was a drowning and the boy had been revived. I had an unsettling feeling as we swam that day with our 3 children and my best friend’s family. I just thought about ” your son” last week, hoping everything was ok. Thank you so much for your blog and we are so very happy that your son has recovered. It was shared on FB by several of my friends and as I started to read it sounded very familiar. Its great reminder to all that it only takes a second.
    Blessings- Courtney

  30. Melissa says:

    Blessed be the Name of the Lord. We have a 9 year old Andrew as well. So thankful your sweet son is okay. Water safety is our number one priority with our pool. Thanks for the reminder that it is not just the little ones.

  31. Kylie says:

    Wow! Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to pay close attention to kids in water even if you think they are old enough to handle it on their own. Thank you Jesus for the bravery of Michael and everyone else and the people who performed CPR. I put off the CPR class for 6 years after my first son was born. The last 2 years my husband has been a firefighter and a combat medic and has been telling me to take a class. I was so scared that if something happened I would freak out and not know what to do. I am now CPR certified and still am scared I will panic but I am more confident than I was before…because CPR SAVES LIVES!!! Things happen and we need to be prepared. We recently put up our 33inch pool that we have had in storage for 2 yrs bc we were scared to put it up (we also have a very curious 2 yr old). New, higher locks have been put on the doors and there is never a ladder anywhere near it. This story is a great reminder to prep practice safety safety safety. The 6 yr old is going got swim lessons next week for the second year. Thanks for story! I can’t imagine the feeling. But I can see that y’all view everything so differently so much more precious now. My heart is so heavy thinking of how y’all are coping. May god bless. ( I may have missed it in the story but where was Eleanor?)

    • Kylie, thank you for commenting here. I am CPR certified but was due for re-certification at the end of this year. My husband, his parents, and I just took a CPR class this evening. Our instructor said that even if you panic and don’t know what to do, a dispatcher can walk you though it over the phone so much more easily if you already know the steps and actions. Hopefully we never have to use it but I feel better already for having taken it before summer begins. As for Eleanor – I realized after I hit publish that I didn’t tie up that part of the story. Oops! She was perfectly safe and fine in the pirate ship pool, just on the back side where Michael couldn’t see her. She missed Andrew coming out of the water but came over when everyone else came running. It was a good thing she was out of sight so that Michael paused to check the pools again. Thank you for asking about her. God’s blessings to you as well!

      • Kylie says:

        Yes my natural concern was to wonder where Eleanor was. And you are so right, had she been in sight he may have turned away thinking everyone was alright and could have been different. God works in mysterious ways. I’m so glad he is doing well and I’m pretty sure you saved lives by posting your story. Especially bc ppl assume that at certain ages they will do fine but even though he knew how to swim accidents happen quickly and often quietly.
        I almost caused my son to flip his mini atv by playing with him while he was driving and he gassed it and went up onto the driveway where he slid and flipped it sideways. We had purchased his helmet the night before. But I still can’t think about that moment without feeling tremendous guilt for causing but so thankful that he walked away with only a bruise on his bum. Point being that I’m sure Michael is having some trouble with guilt.

        Hang in there. 🙂

  32. Brian W. says:

    Rachel, I am very happy that your story turned out the way that it did. I am thankful to you for talking about it and that the story has traveled so far. I am also very concerned about the psychological toll that this has taken on you and maybe your husband as well. I’m not an expert but I do have experience with PTSD and your story has several “red flags” in my opinion. I strongly urge you and your husband to study about PTSD and decide for yourselves if my opinion has any merit.

  33. Brian, thank you commenting. You bring up a very valid point. The first week afterwards was the most difficult emotionally. I looked up the symptoms for PTSD then and I think we are okay. I now know where to go for the information should I think we’re falling into that range again. I am grateful for your concern. Best wishes!

  34. Robi says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I had no idea it could happen so silently. No idea that something like drowning could be over so quickly. I always assumed it was drawn out and dramatic.

    I’m so glad that your son is okay and that and your family can start to heal now. x

  35. Lynn Ramey says:

    Your story has really made me think. The last few times my 9 yr old daughter got in the pool, I didn’t keep a constant eye on her. Thinking “she can swim, shes ok”. After reading your story…I believe I need to watch my girl like a hawk. Praise God that Andrew is alive and healthy and your family is complete today. You have just changed my thought process for the next times my daughter decides she wants to get in a pool. Thank You.

    • Lynn Ramey says:

      Just an observation….the whole “drowning in a swimming pool” is everywhere since your story spread like wild fire. Thank you so much for bring the attention to the world that we, as parents, need to watch our children while in the pool and those surrounding us, as regardless if you know how to swim or not, anything can happen at any time.

  36. April says:

    When I first saw this, I thought it could have been the story that happened to my husband’s cousin almost 10 years ago. His name was Andrew. Yes, “was”. He was a GREAT swimmer, on “the team” and everything. He jumped into the pool and no one knew he had a heart condition that the cold water sort of “shocked” him into a mild heart attack. The kids thought he was playing when he didn’t surface. He was revived, but had too much time without oxygen to his brain. The family spent a year and a half caring for him in a pretty much vegetable state before he passed. Andrew’s mother is active in a lot of “awareness” groups, so I originally thought your writing could have been hers. So glad your Andrew’s story had a much better ending. 🙂 Thank you for the reminder – going into summer and so much water fun, I will be keeping a little closer eye on my 7 year old daughter because of you! Bless you!

  37. Steve says:

    Hopefully your story will make more people aware of the danger and understand that drowning in the second most common cause of death for children, vehicle accidents are the first. After serving in the US Coast Guard and on a Fire Department in an area that required water rescue resources very often, I have seen many incidents similar to yours. Those that ended in the tragic death of a child impacted everyone involved and changed the lives of thier loved ones forever. Thankfully your story did not end this way and you made some very good points on how to prevent or prepare for this and increase awareness.

  38. Kelly A says:

    I wanted to let you know, I have shared your story on two facebook pages within my neighborhood and the response, just in the last 15 minutes, has been overwhelming. Your account was amazingly written, giving us all a real feel for how completely normal your day was up to the moment your lives almost changed forever. You have reminded all of us of the fragility of life, and the need for parents to be ever vigilant. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience. I’m sure it was painful, but I’m also sure it will prevent tragedies during this swimming season. Personally, I will probably re-post yearly. Thank you again, for all the moms out there.

  39. Kristal Garrity says:

    Wow did this hit home for me! I sobbed thru your entire story because I lived that same tragic event 2 years ago today! Before I share my story- I want to tell you how happy i am to hear that Andrew is doing well! My heart is so heavy for you and your family!

    My youngest of 3, Christian had (nearly)drowned! It was the single most terrifying event of my life! I still struggle with it- even though he is a happy and health 6 yr old(thank you GOD). I was at the pool with him and one of my neighbors! We were sitting on the edge of the pool while the kids were playing in the shallow end! Christian was actually sitting on the steps playing around! I was about 4 feet from him! One second Im watching him play and then the next time I look he is under water(which he loved doing is going under). I paused and waited for him to come up with a smile and he never did! When I ran over he was face up under the water with his eyes open! I pulled him out and he was limp and unresponsive! My neighbors took over(because I was hysterical) and after what seemed to be forever- he started breathing again! The ambulance got there and we were off to children’s hospital! We were fortunate that he did not have any water in his lungs! We still don’t have the exact reason this happened! We think he may have held his breath for too long and passed out! Unbelievable!

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing my story! I just found it heart warming and heartbreaking to read yours! I felt very alone and very guilty for so long! My husband Dan was at home with out other 2 kids at the time, so it was hard to explain the feeling of what I experienced as his mother! So thank you for sharing!

    Kristal Garrity

  40. Jen says:

    Wow thanks for sharing this story.

  41. Alicia says:

    So happy to hear of this wonderful outcome and thank you for sharing this story. So many preventable deaths that happen every year with water. So scary – we need to be aware. Thank you!

  42. Leah says:

    I’ll never forget the look on my then 5yo daughter Avery’s face when I happened to see her going down as her footing landed on the downward slope of Uncle J.’s pool where the shallow end becomes deep; the panic on her face; the ‘I’m in trouble’ look. It was fast; she didn’t utter a sound or splash or bob up; not one other adult there caught that fleeting moment and when I think how close it came that I could’ve missed that look-this would be a very different comment. She remembers too-my seeing her; my jumping in and ‘saving’ her. It is a huge help to hear your story, that age and swimming ability don’t relieve us of our vigilance to keep watch. And perhaps more importantly that drowning doesn’t look at all like what they portray on TV-no yelling or waving or splashing; it’s quiet, it’s terribly fast. It’s worth checking out the fact correcting info online for education purposes. Thanks for sharing, Rachel-so glad it was a good outcome.

  43. Cindy Marino says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I have been a swimming instructor for over 30 years, and it is stories like yours that keep me coming back to teaching swimming every year. I will be the manager of our local pool this summer, and my biggest worry is making sure that our teenaged lifeguards and swimming instructors take their jobs seriously. I will definitely share your story with them. God bless you and your family, I know that your fears are real, I have shared them for many years, and I am thankful every day that I have not had to share your family’s experience.

  44. aaron says:

    Thanks so much. I know how you feel. 3 yrs ago, my son drowned. He fell into a frozen pond in Jan 10. He was under for 20 minutes!!! God’s angels lifted him back to us. Now he is 14 yrs old and a great young Man!!!

  45. Kristy says:

    My son also drowned on February 8th, 4 years ago. He was 21 mos old, dead for about 15 minutes. He’s now a perfectly healthy 6 year old, so smart and full of energy…and he talks about heaven and other things that were happening in the house and such while he was dead on the side of the pool. Get ready…your story is about to get bigger.

  46. Sonya says:

    This happened to my daughter when she was three. She had a round float she was in. Her brothers were with her, and my husband and I were sitting right by the pool. I was reapplying sunscreen to him, and we looked up and she was on the bottom. Everyone thought everyone else was watching, and she took her float off. I had just had CPR training and somehow in the midst of my panic remembered what to do. She was only out for a minute or two and did not have to have a hospital stay..just a quick checkup at the ER. We were very blessed, and she never even had problems getting back into theater afterwards.

  47. Rebecca O says:

    Well told life story and praise be to God for giving him a second chance at a long, loving life. I was ok until you mentioned what your husband told you then I choked up. What a horrible burden of guilt he would have had to live with. We have a pool and are over cautious when our grand daughter who’s 2, comes over. We have all the life saving equipment for her to wear but it’s when she isn’t in the pool but walking around it that keeps me on high alert also. I’m so happy you and your family will have a happy outcome from this. Hugs to all of you.

  48. Andrea says:

    Wow I’m so thankful that your sweet boy is ok! Thank the Lord!
    Thank you for sharing this story, so we can share it with others to raise awareness about water safety.
    A friend just posted this article on my FB page last nite about how to recognize the signs someone is drowning (IT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE ON TV)
    I’m signing my hubbie & myself up for CPR today (it will be a great Father’s Day gift!) and I’m going to look into water safety/swim lessons for my 15 month old.
    Again thank you so much for sharing your story & God bless you & your family.

    • Tanya says:

      Read this off facebook…. it is one of my worse nightmares. We have 17 kids at home 7-15, a pool, a gate, watch them like crazy in the water but i just can’t relax. I am so ….. thankful you had a blessed outcome. He trully is a miracle! Tanya

  49. Nancy Cooney says:

    Rachel, My heart goes out to your family. I had to swim out to rescue my 9 year old who was swept out in a current after jumping off a small local bridge, and I wasn’t a strong swimmer, and without getting into the details, we made it out. What struck me is how quiet it is when someone is in trouble. It took me a long time and therapy to recover from it. Something that helps me is to keep a life jacket in the car (if you live near any type of water, it’s great if anyone gets into trouble. Our whole family went into swimming lessons too. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that it will help countless people and raise awareness. Be gentle on yourself, and know that it will take a long time to heal. Sending prayers. -Nancy

  50. Meme says:

    I am very happy to hear of the safe and blessed outcome of what could have been a terrible loss. I just finished reading another article about drowning and in states that some people think a drowning person would scream and call attention to themselves but it does not always, if ever, happen like that. The inability to get water into your lungs keep you from making any noise and your limbs will just hang at your sides. It said that children usually make noise in the pool and when you don’t hear noises is when you need to be concerned. Again I am very happy for your outcome and since I know of some children who have drowned I am very concerned for my grandchildren who live in homes with pools. Sometimes I think my children, the parents, are too lax in their care. They think I am over protective. Oh well, thats my job.

  51. Michelle Antolin says:

    I have been a nurse for 11 yrs now and am certified in advanced cardiac resuscitation in adults and pediatrics. It was not til this very moment reading your story did it dawn on me how easily i can share my knowledge with friends and loved ones, and possibly make a difference in someone elses life one day too. God Bless your family

  52. 42kim says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are very brave. I couldn’t have written this one month after it happened. I rejoice that you have your son with you. What a gift. Thank you for celebrating those wonderful angels who performed CPR. As a paramedic and emergency dispatcher who has both performed CPR and told others how to do it over the phone it is a blessing to be part of such a positive outcome. As a parent who had a child in respiratory arrest, there is not a day that I do not thank God for the angel (an RN in an emergency room) that resuscitated her and look at my child in wonder and think, “I got to keep you”. Rejoicing with you.

  53. When I was a child, I had a very similar episode, but I was lucky in that a total stranger saw what was happening and pulled me out before I actually drowned. Thank you for sharing your story. I cried, I clapped, I cried some more, and I smile. Thank you.

  54. you shall never need another gift ever again! because you got the greatest one you could ever ask for…thank God it ended well. Peace and love to everyone. And God bless those strangers.

  55. Carrie says:

    My heart goes out to you. Our 7 year old son almost drowned last summer in a backyard pool. We spent 12 days in our local children’s hospital ICU, with a complete recovery. Quick CPR and tons of prayers were probably the two things that made the biggest difference between a good and a bad outcome. He is doing very well with no problems from it. I could say less for me. My life will never be the same again after such a close call.

  56. My story is about my 4 yo daughter. We were celebrating her birthday in our backyard. Lots, I mean like 20+, adults, multiple children all in the backyard eating and drinking and talking. She thought she was a “big girl” because she had taken 4 summers of swim lessons & could swim on her own (when I was in the pool with her). We were all taking a swim break because we had just eaten. She decided that since she thought she could swim, she would – without asking – or announcing her intentions. I glanced over at the pool – I had seen ripples on the water out of the corner of my eye – and saw her standing on the bottom of the pool. It was too deep for her where she was standing – the water was at eye ball level. Her mouth and nostrils were under water. She was on her tippy toes & could not get above the water. Her eyes locked with mine and I felt the same panic I could see in her eyes. No one else had seen her. I bolted the 6 feet to the pool, jumped as far as I could towards her, grabber her and got her face above the water. She gasped for air and coughed and sputtered a bit. Thank God she has no long lasting effects. She will be 16 this month. I am so very thankful that God caused me to look at just the right time.

    • Tami says:

      WOW, Brenda that made my heart beat so fast. My Oldest son got swept away in a wave at the beach about 5 yrs ago when we lived in FL and everytime My husband grabbed him the current took him further away. I was standing there with my sister thinking OMG!! What do I do!?!?! I ran as fast as I could and just ran in the water to help, (you are only thinking of saving your child, forget clothes and shoes you are wearing, WHO CARES) It was the worst thing seeing my baby boy just being swept away. he was on his back so that was good but the water kept going over him and we could see his eyes just looking at us so scared and we felt so helpless. Thankfully between my husband and a surfer coming in they grabbed him and he was OK. Scared but alive!! I was a wreck and was so scared that I had lost my first born, my baby. He was 3 or 4 at the time and is going to be a very smart 9 yr old on Saturday! Thank you for sharing. Im glad your daughter is safe and was OK.

  57. Vicky says:

    Michael, you are a loving and attentive father that was very aware of your children. That is how you know something was wrong in the first place.

    Things happen but because of your awareness, it was not worse. Praise yourself for even being at the pool counting kids and for knowing your son well enough, to know when something wasn’t right.

    And, most of all, forgive yourself.

  58. Joni Konstantelos says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I completely understand the multitude of emotions you feel after an event like this. My daughter fell 9 feet out of a window while we were on vacation in Hawaii. She was two and a half years old at the time. Miraculously she survived with a skull fracture but no bleed. I found it so difficult to say the words, my daughter fell out of a window. I was pregnant at the time and lost that baby four days after her accident. I was so grateful the my daughter survived, that is what I focused in. But the grateful grief is the hardest thing to explain. It’s a loss… You lose a bit more of your innocence when these things happen. Your grip on life slips a bit and you realize just how helpless you really are at times. But also I hold onto this experience as a way to cherish my children, to know just how close we came to a catastrophic event and that we got through it. We are stronger because of it. Wishing you and your family all the best!

  59. Ashley Bower says:

    You are very blessed for the outcome you had. I cannot even imagine how traumatized everyone is. Take comfort that he is okay!! I work with near drowning victims that have anoxic brain injuries that will never recover:-(. Drowning can happen so fast!! He is a miracle!! I am so sorry that this happened but so glad he is okay:-). So great for you to share to warm other families!

  60. Angie says:

    I just attended a funeral yesterday for a sweet precious 3 yr old boy that drown in the family’s own pool. You’re right, it doesn’t “look like” what the movies make us believe, their bodies instinctively react differently, it’s quiet and seemingly calm. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE everyone be vigilant around little ones and water… my dear friends lives will never be the same without lil Mikey, it’s horrible and devastating.

  61. Janet says:

    I am so thankful that your son lived! June 22nd will be 40 years since my 22 month old son Heath drown. I am so grateful that your son made it! God Bless you!

  62. I belong to that sisterhood you very nearly joined, and I am so happy you are not in it. Enjoy every wild and crazy minute of your time with your children. They do grow so fast, and yes, we both know – life is so fragile.

  63. Jenni Lee says:

    I’m so thankful you have your son! I have two grandsons and I know how devastated I would be if this or worse happened to our boys! I will pray for your family and appreciate your courage in sharing this story.

  64. Tami says:

    Rachel, What a story!!! Thank God your Husband and the other 2 medics were there. Perfect timing. God has ways of putting Angels where we need them. I know first hand. Im so glad your baby boy was OK. Thank you for sharing. It had me in tears, but also happy tears.

  65. Stephen says:

    I am glad your son made it.

    It takes 20 minutes to learn CPR.

    There is NO EXCUSE not to learn.

    Not only should CPR be a mandatory skill, but parents should also make sure their children know the dangers of water and what to do in an emergency.

    I am not sure of the actual website, but there are a few out there that teach self rescue. One is:

    I am by no means saying this replaces good supervision, but it is a start.

    I hope your children all recover from this event. I hope you do too.

  66. Kimberly says:

    How very brave of you to share your story. My son also had a “near” drowning two years ago and was revived poolside. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember. Today he is a healthy 4 year old that will never remember. God is good. This is the first time I have heard another story like this where the child has no permanent injury. We are very lucky. Thanks for sharing.

  67. anna says:

    god bless

  68. Dawn Ranjel says:

    My story is a miracle with my son Adam. He was three years old I was getting off work and pulled in the driveway when I heard my 17yr screaming. She was 8 months pregnant. I ran to the back to find my son blue and lifeless. We had a 31/2 ft. above ground pool which I always remembered to take out the latter. He got out of my house crawled up the latter which still don’t know how it was in the pool. He went in and oh my this is hard ..I wasn’t there to help him makes me wonder what he was screaming . he was floating face up which the doctors said that was a factor in saving his life. My daughter pulled him out turned him upside down hit back water flowed out. I got there and gave him a couple of breaths and he started to cry son came back. He spend two days in the hospital but was ok. He’s 9 years and has some problems but he’s my angel. Please parents never ever turn your back on them …I still close my eyes and relive that day over and over. I guess I cant heal yet. But in time I will…Prayers with parents who have lost there children to drowning’s…Dawn

  69. Judy says:

    As parents whose child died and was brought back to life as well, we understand the range of emotions you and your family have gone through. Guilt, Grief, and Gratitude. You are a very strong family and sharing your story to bring awareness to other families only proves that. Thank you for sharing this incredibly amazing story. Your family is truly blessed!

  70. ml86 says:

    My two brothers and I grew up in a rental home that had a huge, in-ground pool complete with diving board. I can only imagine how much it must have stressed my parents out to have that in the backyard. All of us could swim and we never swam when my parents weren’t home. As for me, when I choose to have children, they will never be allowed around a pool or other body of water. It’s just too risk and not worth it. They can have fun playing with other things. Thanks for sharing your story.

  71. Sandy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and being an advocate for parental supervision and sharing the silent warning signs of drowning. Out friends were not as lucky as you two years ago. It’s been a huge wake up call & like you I try to make other parents alert of the warning signs and to take the proper precautions. God bless you & your family.

  72. Penelope says:

    Thank you for sharing such a difficult story that is a reminder for all.

  73. kataquino says:

    This definitely inspired me to share my story, Thank you. I had a near-death experience with my son as well. I understand that feeling of desperation to help your son or the feeling of “I should have been there”. But thank God he is okay and here to this day, A huge thank you to those that saved your son with the CPR. You definitely have angels watching over you and your family.

  74. Nioni says:

    God knows all and has angels all over helping where they should. Many times people are doing God’s work and they don’t know it. Thank you for sharing with us your story which has touched so many. God bless you.

  75. Peter S Lambie says:

    A few years ago a fellow diver friend here in Kuwait revived a toddler who had fallen into a pool while everyone else ran around screaming. First Aid is becoming something for someone else to do instead of being a personal responsibility of everyone as it used to be.
    Mike was a very responsible supervisor of the children that day and undoubtedly contributed to this happy result.
    In any case you had angels watching over you all that day!
    Keep asking friends, relatives, colleagues who can do First Aid!

  76. Someone says:

    Wow, this is a powerful and emotional story Rachel which, along with many of the other’s comments, hit especially close to home for me in quite a unique and unexpected way after randomly finding then reading your blog. Just seeing the location (picture) caused me some goosebumps.

    It was maybe three years ago while I was at the exact same hotel water park, albeit in a different midwestern city (there are several of these “pirate” themed water parks in the national chain), were I found myself pulling a lifeless little body out of the turbulent waters directly in front of where the twin, two-story waterslides empty into the pool. Thank God, this situation too like that of your own, did not result in tragedy. In fact it didn’t get as “serious” as your son’s near drowning, but it still affects me from time-to-time as it is now after reading your story. I think about it less now than before, but still sometimes awaken in the night due to unpleasant dreams related to the incident.

    I was there that evening enjoying the park with my wife and two children as we had done a few times before. My youngest was about 4 or maybe 5 at the time, and despite the fact that she had taken lessons for several seasons already and could swim relatively well, especially for her age, she wasn’t really old enough or ready to go down the big waterslides alone. So, I would slide behind her holding on all the way down until we would spill out into the pool together — her still in my grasp. We had done this many times together, not only during this particular visit, but on previous stays as well.

    So on one particular run we came around the final curve into view of the slide’s end and there, directly in front of us where we were to spill out in about 2-3 seconds, was what surely had to be another child. I couldn’t really make out size or age, but got the impression it was a girl as I thought I some some longer hair, maybe a ponytail or something. She didn’t appear to be swimming, more just “bobbing” in — basically under the water. My first concern was a possible collision, so I hollered “LOOK OUT!”, and at the very last second she seemed to kind of sink down into the water and and was apparently pushed away from our direct line by the rushing water. I did feel my legs slightly brushed up against her, probably with her legs or arms, as we slide into the water reaching the pool’s bottom.

    At this time I had my daughter in my arms, and as I came up to stand and move a few feet further from the slide towards the pool deck, which fortunately was only about 10 feet away, I turned to look back for any sign of the girl. She was not visible and due to the bubbles generated and churning from the slides you really couldn’t see into the water at all, and this was in water only 3.5-4 feet deep. As I got my daughter lifted out of the water and onto the deck, I again looked around for her sensing something was just not right, but hoping that her head would just pop up out of the water as she swam away like nothing was the matter. However there was still no sign of her, and I was doubting that she could have swam out away from the area of the spill far enough into calmer waters without me realizing it.

    I waited only a few more seconds before deciding that I must go quickly back toward the area where I thought she might be and frantically began reaching around in the water until finally I found her below the surface. I immediately reached down and pulled her up — she was completely limp, and I wasted no time in moving as quickly as possible to the side of the pool to hoist her up onto the deck. As I’m doing this I’m looking around for someone else, the girl’s parent or guardian — anybody else knowing that she needs help! Of course, there’s no “lifeguard” to be found and absolutely everybody else in the immediate area, with the exception of my own daughter, was completely oblivious at first to this girl’s potentially precarious situation. I shouted for help. Only a couple of other adults happened to glance our way, but seemed to be mostly frozen — just kind of staring and trying to analyze the situation. By this time I’m out of the pool and on the deck getting ready to start checking her for any signs of life.

    There’s no obvious indication that she’s breathing, and I realized that I must get her on her back to “look, listen, and feel”. Unfortunately, it’s been probably 8-9 years since I had gone through CPR training as part of my wife’s lamaze during her first pregnancy, and I’m basically panicking and straining to calm myself enough to begin doing what I can to try to help this girl, all the while hoping too that someone far more competent than I can and will step right in.

    Just as I begin to go down to try to detect any breath, which I’m already certain that I won’t find, I have to jostle her some to reposition her from lying on her side, which is how I first got her onto the deck, to her back. Well apparently just those movements were enough to trigger some sort involuntary response from her body to begin expelling the water she had taken into her lungs, and I would guess her stomach too. Relief started to creep in now for me with each abdominal contraction that essentially caused her to vomit up the pool water she had ingested. Again, thank God! She gasped a few times during this process seemingly getting some much needed oxygen into her lungs.

    Very quickly now she began to regain consciousness, I guess, and became at least somewhat responsive. By this time, maybe a handful of other adults had come to my side, most wondering what was going on or had happened and not necessarily thinking about a near drowning. Her eyes opened, though she was initially in a daze herself not really understanding why we were huddled over her either. Very quickly however she began to respond to verbal questions with yes/no answers. Sadly whoever actually knew her, had brought her there, or was responsible for her was nowhere to be found yet. I kept yelling “who’s child, who’s baby is this?”, but again only blank stares.

    Soon the employee responsible for keeping watch over the pool-side area came over all wide-eyed. I basically had to instruct this person, who appeared to be a teenager by the way, to take the girl to find her parent or guardian then determine what additional care, if any, she would need now.

    A little later on I saw the girl sitting with her mother and approached to inquire as to how she was doing. Her mother asked if I was the one who “saved her from drowning” to which I replied that fortunately I was in the right place at the right time to help her get out of water too deep for her, but didn’t feel like I had “saved” her. She politely thanked me and said the girl was feeling a little better, but didn’t want to go back in the water.

    The girl was only maybe 5 or 6, and mom said she couldn’t really swim at all. Mom thought that her daughter just must have wandered over to the deeper pool from the area around the pirate ship where she had been instructed to stay and jumped in near the slides not realizing that it wasn’t the kiddy pool like where she had been playing. She may have followed an older sibling. Sadly the mom was apparently distracted or something and said she had other kids with her there that day too.The whole episode has bothered me ever since — a bit of anger, some fear, helplessness, etc… Though there is no question that I’m a responsible, not to mention loving, parent who would/could never let anything hurt one of my babies, sometimes you come to realize that it only takes a moment for tragedy to strike.

    Sorry for the long-winded version of this story. Interestingly, it was a bit cathartic just to rethink it through and jot down not only what happened, but also some of my own thoughts and emotions related to the incident. Thank you for this outlet Rachel.

  77. strykerwife83 says:

    Just yesterday i took my 18 month old out of the pool to grab a towel for her because she looked cold i looked at my 3 year old in the 1 ft and figured she would be ok…. Seeing te towel was on the chair next to the pool on the deep end… I grabbed the towel and atarted walking back to te one foot section when i barely hear maaa…. And then a second later meee i look over in te deeper section and my 3 year old had her head facing up just her mouth was barely out of water as she instinctively jumped on her tip toes to say mommy as water went in her mouth…. She had followed me and i hadnt realized it… I had left her wih her cousin but didnt wver state to him watch her for a second… The lifeguard was diatracted talkig to someone… I made a poor and foolish decision…. I jumped in the pool while holding my other one and grabbed my 3 year old put her in a lifejacket and just thanked God that for whatever reason she new to get on her tip oes and jump…. It just takes seconds and it would have been silent….

  78. thank you for sharing your story. my 12 year old son drowned.

    • Philip Ruml says:

      Rachel, I am so glad you were able to share your story with all of us as I was wondering how your son was doing after we finished CPR on him and the medics took him to the hospital. One of our surgeons at the Watertown Hospital saw your story on FB and knew it was the child I had helped save. I was just hoping to share my perspective o how God works in very amazing ways:

      Two months before your son drown, my wife and I were very worn out from the length of winter and decided to take our three girls to the “Pirate ship” which is my three year old daughters favorite pool in the world. We were going down the big slide time after time with her life jacket on when we decided to go into the 1 ft pool and play on the ship. Meanwhile my 18 mth old daughter had gotten in the pool as well and we were all playing and having a good time. For some unknown reason Ava asked to have her lifejacket off and promised to stay in the shallow pool. Off came the jacket. I decided to take our 18 month old down the pirate slide and having a great time. A split second later I am hysterically looking for Ava as there are people everywhere. My wife all of the sudden is carrying my crying Ava over to me and my wife is white as a ghost and crying. Ava had gotten the courage to go down the two story slide by herself without a lifejacket. Only by the grace of God was there a man watching from the other side of the fence and realized she didn’t know how to swim and jumped in with his clothes on and saved her life. She never lost consciousness but was probably very close. There is no worse feeling in the world. You feel like the worst parent in the world. My wife and I vowed to never return until the children were older as there are just too many people to keep track of our own children.

      Jumping forward to the day we returned. My niece was having her birthday party at the pirate ship and invited us to join. My wife and I looked at each other and had to seriously consider the other option of fishing. Reluctantly we decided to go and promised one of us would be with either walking children at all times. Ava and I were enjoying the large slide when my wife comes running and has the same look I had seen from her only once before. She was screaming there is a boy and he is blue he needs your help. I race over to see a pulse less blue young boy laying poolside. CPR was initiated and after a bit your son started to spit up water and as the oxygen began to get back to his brains his eyes stared straight at me and told me “I am scared”. I assured him I was as well but everything was going to be okay.

      I have done CPR many times in the hospital setting but never in public. I always caught myself wondering if I would be able to do it if I ever came across an emergency. Practice went a long way that day.

      I have been CPR certified since I was 9 years old as my father is an instructor. It is always better to do something than nothing he always told me. I strongly encourage everyone to get to your local hospital and sign up for a CPR class as you never know when you will need it.

      As for your husband, never take anything for granted and love your children every day. I almost lost my Ava and am so great full to be able to pay it forward to your son that day in Sioux Falls.

  79. Philip, I am in tears. Thank you for sharing about the day from your perspective. I’m so grateful you came to your niece’s party after such a scare of your own. It’s a heart-wrenching experience and it took a lot of courage to come back. Thank you to your wife, as well, for coming to get you so quickly. There will never be a day that I’m not grateful to you both. As I told Sasha, the other person who helped perform CPR, you saved our family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  80. Dawn says:

    Your story has touched our lives too, being my family was there the same day and helped with CPR. It could have easily been any of our children too, and I am so overjoyed for your happy ending that day. Seeing God’s miracles first hand is an amazing experience. May God continue to bless your family and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this story.

  81. Lisha says:

    I put off reading this and hearing the details because the close call was just more than I could handle at first! I am so very grateful our Andrew is still with us! He is such a joy! I cannot tell you how impressed I am with both you and Mike for not letting the stress and anxiety cripple your ability to still play in the water with the kiddos (although I know it’s not easy). You and Mike are the most amazing and loving parents! It is wonderful how many lives your story has affected! God is great! Thank you for sharing!!

    • You are just the sweetest, Lish. After the incident, all I really wanted to do was keep all the kids in my sight at all times. One of the hardest things of all is to go back to acting like things are “normal.” For their sakes, we are trying to keep their life like it was before. We don’t want them to be afraid of water and the only way to avoid that is to be around water. We had a fabulous weekend with you guys and can’t wait to see you again!

  82. Your story makes me want to cry. Especially since my husband knows you and shared this with me. We too have kids that spend the greater amount of the year in the water and our oldest is 11, but our younger two are toddlers and get the bulk of our attention in the water. I’m always searching with fear when I *don’t* hear our oldest in the pool. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi! I remember your husband linking to your blog a while back. I enjoyed what I read and have now added you to my reader. When I got the call that I needed to come back to the hotel it wasn’t clear what had happened or which of my children was hurt. With the endless possibilities running through my head, I didn’t guess that it would have been my oldest. Drowning doesn’t care about age or swimming ability. It can happen to anyone. I hope you have a great and SAFE summer! Thank you for commenting here.

  83. Kim Haiar says:

    Hi, Rachel!
    I am with Children’s Miracle Network at Sanford Children’s in Sioux Falls. Your story really touched me – it was shared by another of our families on Facebook, and then I did see it on the news as well last month. We do radiothons here, sharing stories of Sanford Children’s Hospital, and how Children’s Miracle Network and Sanford Children’s has an impact on the lives of children and their families. In case you’re not aware, much of the equipment in the PICU and other floors are purchased with Children’s Miracle Network funds, and if you received meal vouchers while you were here, those were also provided by Children’s Miracle Network.

    My question for you is this: If you will be back in Sioux Falls before the end of August, we’d love to do an interview with you and your husband. It would be recorded and then the radio DJ would take pieces of the interview and put it to music to create a “montage” for our October radiothon. Would you be interested or available in doing this? If so, I’ve provided my email address below, so would love to hear from you. You can also reach me by phone at 605-328-5700.

    Thanks so much for your consideration.
    Kim Haiar

  84. I just noticed your story and I am so very sorry to hear about what happened to Andrew. As a parent myself, I do understand the deep love connection we have with our own children.
    I would like to feature an article about your inspirational story in our Water Safety Magazine. I know it is very difficult to talk about these events in particular, but like you, there are many other parents whom have experienced events such like yours. Many have come forward to share their own stories and to support one another. I am glad you have Andrew back with you and that is such a blessing. Please have patience, and my thoughts with you so you can find some piece in all of this. Let me know if you are interested in having an article with your story for our magazine, and you can send me an e-mail note at: editorial() We strive to send a strong message educating the public about drowning prevention and water safety in order to save lives.
    Many blessings to you and your family.
    And a thanks to Andrea for sharing/posting a link to one of our articles earlier.

    Tomas Leclerc
    Water Safety Magazine

  85. Good story and you never know when CPR might be needed…it happened to us a few years ago, while in Memphis at a pool….

  86. Andrea says:

    God bless u and ur family and thank u for sharing ur story. I have a 2yr old and a 9mo old and I grew up having a pool. It’s funny that u don’t realize the dangers until u have kids.

  87. Anna says:

    Many years ago while working at a pool I rescued a little boy by the diving area. I will never forget the look in the parents face as I brought him out if the pool. Yes he did survive, but just a split second can change everything. Now a mother and grandmother myself I realize the devastation that the little boys parents felt.

  88. Heather Rappa says:

    I have a similar story with my daughter who was 3 when she drowned.. We had gone to a friends pool and were playing all day long.. My daughter was wearing water wings the entire day. She said she needed to go to the bathroom so we got dried off and by the time we were done she had already gone to the bathroom on the pool deck… I got the hose and was rinsing it off and then was talking with my friend.. She was standing there with me waiting to get back in the pool.. I kept saying just a minute.
    MY friend just happened to turn and look in the pool and see one of the kids sinking to the bottom.. I immediately jumped in and pulled her from the pool.. She was lifeless. I put her down on the pool deck and was yelling at her and shaking her trying to get a response… I rolled her on her side and was hitting her on the back. Still nothing. I had forgotten all of the CPR training and lifeguard training I had when I was a teenager. I panicked.
    By this time the owner of the house had come and grabbed her from me. He was patting her on her back and all of sudden she started throwing up water and the hot dog she had for lunch… During this EMS showed up and they took her and carried her into the back of the ambulance… Made sure she was stabilized and off to the hospital we went… After a few hours there they decided that we needed to be transferred to another hospital for Children for over night monitoring. We spent the night at the hospital and went home the next day.
    It was so crazy that it could happen to us… You hear stories about it on TV and you think where were the parents? Never think it will happen to you. I was standing right there when it happened….
    I really struggled with a long time with quilt.. What would have happened if I was 30 seconds later? Does my husband blame me? He says no but I don’t see how it couldn’t….
    She remembers almost everything that happened… She said she walked to the other side of the pool to get her brothers goggles.. She said she tried to call for me but I didn’t hear her… She remembers riding in the ambulance and everything they did for her.. She said that the oxygen mask looks like daddy’s mask.. He sleeps with a (c-PAP)
    The week after it happened my daughter asked to go swimming. We were terrified to go but decided the only way to not be afraid is to go again. We were more terrified than she was..
    This was the most horrifying thing we have ever experienced and I hope and pray no other parent will have to experience. We are so blessed that things turned out the way the did..

  89. Brandi says:

    My heart goes out to your family. I just read this story and am so happy for your outcome. Unfortunately, this touched my heart for an awful tragedy that happened 2 years ago with my cousins 4 year old son on Memorial Day weekend. They were with friends having a backyard party and swimming in their pool. Same circumstances it was plenty of family kids around that were playing in the water watching out for the younger kids along with the adults around the pool watching. Just like you said it only took a minute and their was no warning of it. He had been practicing swimming earlier that day with his daddy in the pool and was still scared of the water if he didn’t have his swimmies on, but somehow managed to take them off and within no time he drowned. They had a nurse there that started CPR immediately after getting him out of the pool and Southflight helicopter even came to pick him up to get him to the hospital quicker when they heard his age. While doing CPR she got him to spit out some of the water, but that was it. They worked on him at the hospital for over an hour and still no luck. We celebrate his beautiful life every year on his birthday now. His name was Gabriel and is our angel now. I am so happy to hear that you have your son. You will be happy to know this family stayed together still happy husband and wife and they have 3 daughters, but that was their only son and cannot have anymore children. But they still thank the good Lord for the blessing of everyday they had with him and take that with them throughout the rest of their lives. They miss him everyday, but have kept God close to them and pray on the days that are harder to get through. I just had to write back to let you know their story too. Enjoy all of your family and their great blessing of having each other.

  90. Tara says:

    Thank God your son is okay. I am happy to hear he is doing well. Also really, really happy you shared your story because it is so true how fast things happen in the water. Spring break, 2013 my family and I went to Seaside in Florida. We were there with friends and day 1 on vacation my 5.5 year old at the time decides to get in. I have my back turned as I place the towels over the pool chairs and when I look I see arms fluttering and I do not see my son Nolan & instantly realize it is him trying to stay above water in the center of the pool. There were not many people around it was just Nolan & I waiting for friends, my daughter & husband had not come down from the condo yet they were merely trailing behind. I was fully clothed and jumped in immediately and grabbed him. He was choking on water and hysterical. He told me later he thinks he forgot how to swim. This is a boy that has had at least 7-10 swim lessons both one on one with swim coaches as well as at a facility near our home in Georgia with certified instructors. This is a boy that swam the length of the pool for. summer league swim team and played all last summer in the deep end. I was shocked but did my best to stay calm and keep him calm as well. He got out in the middle, it was too deep, he couldn’t touch, he panicked and went under.
    If I had been engaged in conversation or if the pool was crowded – I am not sure what would have happened to him. It scared me to death but I tried hard to keep it together. The next day and since then he is very, very cautious and told me he no longer wants to do summer swim team. I do not push and I keep a very careful eye on him all the time now.
    He did great this year at our usual spot down in Seaside Florida but the memory is very fresh in my mind as to how I felt the minute I realized he was struggling hard to keep his head up and kept going down and was choking and gulping in water. He rarely goes in the ocean but this year he did go up to his waist with me by his side and had fun in the waves. a lesson for me that I will never forget. I thank God everyday for my life, my husband and my children, no joke. We will continue with lessons and always keep a careful eye on him.

  91. Michael Scherer says:

    I don’t know you, but want to thank you for writing and posting something that must have been so terribly painstaking for you. I have shared it, and will continue to do so. I have an 8-year-old, who is also a strong swimmer. But I do not kid myself into thinking he is immune from something like an unexpected slip resulting in disorientation under water, which as you said, quickly and quietly happens. I think you probably lived my worst fear. I’m sure you probably relive this every time you close your eyes. Hugs to your family. Thanks again for the poignant reminders.

  92. christine says:

    Just read this from a link on Facebook. Thank you so much for sharing. I always wonder what happened when you hear about an older child drowning. I have an 8 and 10 year old, and we just took a similar stay cation. Truly just an accident, you all did everything right, thank God angels were hanging around, and that your husband followed his instincts. Peace to your family. You will help other people by sharing.

  93. Dawn says:

    My Andrew just turned 9 last week, and our pool will be finished next week. I feel like God sent this to me to read. Even if they can swim you can’t take your eyes off of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story.

  94. leah says:

    I seen a little boy almost drown yesterday within 4 ft of me at the same hotel as your Andrew! He had to have walked right by me but I was busy keeping an eye on my 2 kids to see him go in the deeper pool. Luckily his mom noticed him gone from the pirate ship area and started to look right away! She jumped in and got him but I caught a glimpse of him sinking to the bottom before she did. I could not get that image out of my mind last night! Thankfully he was ok after spitting up some water. The place was full of kids and adults and no one seen him go in. So scary!

  95. Jolene says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m on vacation in Florida right now and my son who is 3 was found face down in bottom of pool thanks to my families quick reactions he is still with us and back to himself now. Only a 24 hour hospital stay. I can’t imagine any other worse scenario for a parent and can’t express how important CPR was in our situation.

  96. Deanna larson says:

    What a beautiful ending to what could have been sad. Thank God he was saved. Gives great awareness to people who have children swimming this summer.
    Thanks for sharing your difficult emotional story.
    God bless you all.

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