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Fast action saves toddler from drowning in St. Petersburg pool

ST. PETERSBURG — A 2-year-old boy was pulled from the bottom of a pool just after 6 p.m. Sunday, blue from head to toe and not breathing.

But St. Petersburg Fire Rescue spokesman Joel Granata said that thanks to fast action by the boy's father and a cousin, the toddler survived.

The boy, whose name has not been released, was transported to All Children's Hospital in serious condition. He was being held overnight for observation.

Family members were eating grilled hamburgers and hot dogs by a backyard swimming pool at 1802 Bayou Grande Blvd. NE when Russ Cooper, 30, the boy's father, noticed his son was missing.

The boy's water wings were on the pool deck. The toddler, Granata said, had stripped the flotation devices from his arms and jumped into the water without anyone noticing.

Paramedic supervisor Rob Neuberger, one of the first emergency responders to the scene, said the boy probably didn't realize the water wings were holding him up.

Cooper dived in and pulled out his son, who was limp and not breathing, said Bobbie Stanton, Cooper's cousin. It was Stanton who acted next.

"I yelled, 'Put him down, put him down!' He was completely blue. Everything was blue," she said.

The 30-year-old Stanton, who was trained in CPR for her work at Achieve Tampa Bay preschool in Tampa, laid her cousin on the pool deck and began chest compressions and rescue breaths.

One cycle.

Stanton said the boy's father was "freaking out."

Two cycles.

She said Cooper was shouting over her: "He was crying, telling his little boy, 'Breathe, breathe!' "

Then, on the third set, the toddler, who came to the party with his father from their home in Land O'Lakes, began crying and throwing up.

"Oh my God, I can't believe it," Stanton recalled thinking. "He was screaming, he was crying. He seemed back the way he usually is."

Shortly after the boy began breathing, Neuberger and other paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital.

Granata classified the case as a "near drowning," and said the boy is expected to survive.

Reach Dominick Tao at or (727) 580-2951.

Fast action saves toddler from drowning in St. Petersburg pool 05/30/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 30, 2010 9:40pm]
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