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July 28, 2011

Hero saves Calif. girl, father from bottom of pool

By Mike Rosenberg
San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose firefighters are lauding a local man as a hero after he single-handedly pulled a 6-year-old girl and her father out of the bottom of a pool and revived them on Wednesday night, saving two lives in what medical responders say could have been a tragic accident.

What ended up as an amazing rescue likely to land the man commendations from the city started innocently as family and friends lounged around the pool on a warm summer night in San Jose.

The 6-year-old sat atop her father's shoulders as he stood in the shallow end of a townhouse complex pool in the area of Miller Avenue and Bollinger Road in West San Jose, fire Capt. Rob Brown said. The mother and other friends and neighbors in the complex sat some 25 feet away in a hot tub, facing away from the pool.

Then around 8:55 p.m., they heard an eerie quiet coming from the pool area. They turned around, and both the father and girl were gone, Brown said.

The mother and a family friend got out of the hot tub and ran over to the pool to discover a horrifying site at the bottom of the pool: two bodies.

Unshaken, the friend immediately jumped into the water and pulled both the unconscious girl and her father from the pool. He called over for help and gave the girl CPR, and after a few compressions, the girl was breathing again. Meanwhile, other people in the area had revived the man by giving him CPR.

By the time firefighters arrived, about five minutes after the bodies were found, both father and daughter were conscious, Brown said. They were taken to hospitals and were expected to survive.

"The crews on scene were patting the gentleman on the back, telling him he was a hero," Brown said. Investigators were trying to determine what caused the pair to hit the bottom of the pool, and had not immediately ruled out foul play. No one else was in the pool at the time.

Although it was a dangerous move — the man might have himself drowned trying to save them — Brown said there might not have been enough time for emergency responders to arrive and save them, and that the hero would be recommended for an official award from the department and other recognition.

"When you have someone submerged in the pool, you've got to get them out," said Brown, adding that a few people inevitably drown each summer in San Jose pools and waterways. "It's the heroic thing to do, certainly, and I think we all hope someone would do that for us if we were in that situation."

Copyright 2011 San Jose Mercury News

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