LAKEVILLE, Minn. - A Lakeville neighborhood is taking action after a near drowning in their private neighborhood pool, especially in summer when drownings in Minnesota are higher than any other year than the past decade.
"It happened so fast," said Christie Whitfield. She came with a friend to the Trevar on the Greenway neighborhood pool, June 19th, a sweltering summer day, and told her four year old son Cooper to wait by the pool steps.
"I turned around to finish sunscreening my youngest daughter, when I turned around, he was at the bottom of the pool," said Whitfield, who immediately dove in to try and save her son.
In the crowd of kids and parents, Cooper slipped silently under the water while reaching for a raft. No one saw him go under, or heard him cry for help. He was lifeless and turning blue after an estimated two minutes under the water.
As a mom, Leah Mickschl ran to Cooper's side, but as a registered nurse at Children's Hospital, she knew exactly what to do. She began CPR. After 30 long seconds, Cooper began to sputter water from his lungs.
"His eyes opened and I just remember his eyes were big and blue," said Mickschl. She just finished her CPR recertification a few months before.
"I do think I was supposed to be here that day," she said.
The lifesaving technique brought back Cooper's same unstoppable spirit. Doctors deemed Cooper perfectly healthy, and Whitfield says he wants to get back in the water to swim.
But, the near tragedy also awoke the neighborhood. Amy Solinger watched helpless from the poolside that day and took charge of something she could control, by hiring a private CPR training company, Link to Life, for the neighborhood.
"The fact that we've now only a month later certified 29 people in CPR I think is incredible, if there is anything we can take away from this, it's watch your kids, be aware, be knowledgeable, get certified," she said. "This is a miracle, it happened right in front of us. It turned into something big, bigger than us."The knowledge brings a ripple of relief for all families, and for Cooper, the gift of many more summer days.
"She (Leah) was truly our guardian angel that day," said Whitfield. "I didn't have his lifejacket there that day. I beat myself up for that, I always take his lifejacket with me, and I don't know why I didn't that day. But thanks to Leah, the outcome could have been so much worse, and he's perfect."
Mickschl will be recognized as a hero during the Lakeville City Council meeting Monday night.
"I was sent a guardian angel that day, that day she not only saved Cooper's life, but mine as well," said Whitfield, who says with her blessing comes an obligation to share a message about the importance of CPR.
The Trevar on the Greenway neighborhood will hold two more CPR training session for area homeowners, and hopes other neighborhood will be inspired to do the same.
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