Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo Cub Scout honored for helping save tot who fell into pool

Liam Spellissy, 9, sprang into action when Rhett Baker, 2, right, fell into a pool May 4. 

Special to the Times

Liam Spellissy, 9, sprang into action when Rhett Baker, 2, right, fell into a pool May 4. 

Liam Spellissy is a shy 9-year-old. Ask him questions and you get answers typical of someone preparing for the fourth grade.

Were you nervous?


Are you tired of all the attention?

"Not really."

But Liam's quick thinking on May 4 has others singing his praises. His composure probably saved the life of 2-year-old Rhett Baker.

Here's how Tricia Baker, Rhett's mother, recalls what she says was a "terrifying few seconds."

The Bakers, a Clearwater family of six, were visiting the Spellissy family in Largo that afternoon.

While the older children were playing in the back yard and in the pool, Baker was tending to Rhett and his 10-month-old sister in the house. Guests were using a sliding glass door to come in and out of the house.

Rhett was just 2 feet away from his mother, who was holding her daughter, when someone forgot to close the glass door.

"Rhett dashed through the door," said Baker. "I was screaming, but it was like it was happening in slow motion. I thought once he got to the edge of the pool he would stop."

Rhett didn't. He landed in the pool face first.

The older children froze in horror, except for Liam.

The Cub Scout immediately lay on the ground by the pool and grabbed the toddler's shirt. He then flipped Rhett face up until he could be pulled from the pool by Rhett's father, Todd.

"He was so calm and responsible," Baker said. "He acted like a scout. We were crying, and I was hysterical because it was a dramatic couple of seconds."

For his calm but quick action, Liam was honored by Largo Fire Rescue on Tuesday during a Largo City Commission meeting.

"Liam acted appropriately," said Largo Chief Michael J. Wallace. "He did everything right."

A member of Cub Scout Pack 455 at Clearwater's St. Cecelia Interparochial School, Liam had learned just two weeks earlier about saving someone who is in distress in a pool. He learned that people who aren't strong swimmers should not attempt a water rescue.

"I'm glad to see him take action and that no one was hurt," said Greg Brown, Cub master for Pack 455 and a park supervisor with the Largo Recreation, Parks and Arts Department.

According to a 2001-2005 report by the Florida Department of Health's Office of Injury Prevention, Florida has the largest percentage of U.S. drowning deaths for children ages 1 to 4. On average, there were 465 drowning deaths in Florida every year and an average of 566 hospitalizations for near drownings. Florida's overall drowning death rate was twice the national rate in 2001-2004, the report said.

Liam is pleased that he did the right thing. He stood before city commissioners Tuesday and smiled as the story of his good deed was recounted. His mother, Donna, a nurse, stood nearby and videotaped the event.

"He was a first responder," said Donna Spellissy. "I was pretty surprised at his actions. He did a good job, and I'm pretty proud of him."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or

Largo Cub Scout honored for helping save tot who fell into pool 06/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 9, 2008 12:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  2. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  3. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  4. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    In their third year with pitching coach Neil Allen, the Twins have been one of the surprises of the American League.