Saturday, December 9, 2023

County recognizes teen lifeguards for saving drowning 5-year-old

The three young lifeguards pose with James City County’s Board of Supervisors after being recognized for saving a child’s life. (Andrew Harris/WYDaily)

Just two months after saving a 5-year-old boy from drowning in a pool at Chickahominy Riverfront Park, three young lifeguards have been recognized for their heroic efforts.

On Tuesday, the James City County Board of Supervisors recognized Zachary Clevinger, Sam VanTassel and Trish Patton for saving the boy, who was still learning to swim, from drowning. The Board took time to recognize the three lifeguards for their heorism.

“Unless you’ve been through it you don’t know how you’re going to react,” said John Carnifax, Director of Parks and Recreation for the County. “You can train for hours and hours. But when the time comes — and it did for these three young individuals — they took charge. They did exactly what they needed to do.”

The 5-year-old was swimming at the pool with several family members July 22 when he started to drown, his grandmother, Pam Mason, told WYDaily in July.

A James City County ambulance responded to the pool just after 1:30 p.m. after receiving a call stating lifeguards were trying to resuscitate the boy, fire officials said after the incident.

The boy’s uncle had seen him submerged at the bottom of the pool. After pulling him from the water, the lifeguards performed CPR for at least 10 minutes before medics arrived, a witness, Diana Justice, said.

According to Carnifax, the trio of lifeguards was able to make sure the boy had a pulse when EMTs arrived.

The boy was flown to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, where he stayed for several days while recovering, Mason said.

Doctors told the boy’s family he was lucky: He did not have any water in his lungs, avoiding pneumonia, and was only hooked up to a ventilator for several hours, Mason said.

Mason added he was unlikely to have any long-term injuries.

In July, Carnifax said the lifeguards’ response was “outstanding” in the stressful situation.

Carnifax added Tuesday, “It’s a great recognition for their outstanding presence, awareness and their ability to implement exactly what they were trained to do.”

The lifeguards received an ovation from the Board of Supervisors and residents in attendance.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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