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Beachgoer's quick action helps save boy from drowning

(ran PS edition of PASCO TIMES)

The 2-year-old boy was swimming at Fort Island Gulf Beach in Citrus County when he slipped out of a tube around his waist.

A quick-thinking bystander _ along with family members, off-duty lifeguards and emergency medical workers _ joined forces to help prevent a 2-year-old boy from drowning Thursday evening at Fort Island Gulf Beach, according to records and interviews.

After the rescue, John M. Chapin was taken by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. Officials there released him Friday morning.

"He seems to be fine," the boy's aunt, Jane Sterling, said Friday evening. She said the boy will be 3 in October.

John visited the beach Thursday with his mother, a brother, a sister, two cousins and one other adult relative, his aunt said.

He was swimming after 6 p.m., according to a report from the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, wearing an inflatable plastic tube around his waist.

According to the report, which sheriff's Deputy Scott Burkhart prepared, a swimmer, Robert B. Reha, saw the child go underwater. Reha ran toward John and pulled him to safety.

"I got there right before the mother," said Reha, 40, of Floral City, who was watching his three children in the water when he saw John slip out of the inflatable tube and go under.

Reha told the deputy the boy's lips were turning blue as he was removed from the water.

Meanwhile, relatives had rushed to help the boy as well, Sterling said.

Citrus County's parks and recreation department, which oversees lifeguards at the beach, reported that three of its lifeguards helped. The guards had finished their shifts at the beach, where lifeguard service stops after 6 p.m., when they heard cries for assistance.

A department official who had reviewed an incident report said one of the guards, Jackie Calbeck, a former Crystal River High School distinguished swimmer, helped revive the boy. The other guard named in the sheriff's report was Micah Franklin, a wrestling standout at Lecanto High School.

It was the second time in recent weeks that Calbeck was involved in a rescue at the beach. The teenager was honored by county commissioners on Tuesday for his role in rendering medical assistance to a 3-year-old child at the beach on July 17.

Emergency Medical Services requested a helicopter to bring the boy to St. Joseph's.

The deputy arrived at the beach about 6:18 p.m. His report gave special credit to Reha, whom the deputy credited with helping avert a disaster.

"It was only through quick action and being observant that the witness Robert saw the child, rendered aid, and helped to save the child's life, as the child was under water approximately 17 seconds before assistance," the deputy wrote.

He also noted that, according to the boy's mother, two members of the family party _ one age 12, the other 14 _ had failed to supervise the child as assigned.

The aunt, who took John home from the hospital, said the boy seemed okay.

"I don't think he remembers anything," she said. "The only thing he said to his Dad was, 'The doctors hurt me.' "