REXBURG — An Idaho Falls orthopedic surgeon who visited Rexburg Rapids on July 11 for the first time helped rescue and revive an 18-month-old near drowning victim.
“I wasn’t even supposed to make it (to the pool) that day. I had clinic that day, but I actually got done early. That doesn’t typically happen. It happened 30 minutes after I got in there,” said Dr. Nicholas Pearson who was visiting the pool with his wife, Lacie, and their five children for a family reunion.
Pearson saw the baby girl float by and wondered if she was just playing in the water. He quickly realized that she wasn’t.
“For whatever reason, I took an about face. I don’t know exactly why I turned round. I turned around and saw the baby floating in the water. She was facedown. I jumped over the rope and flipped her over,” he said. “She was ashen blue, no color. She was limp and lifeless. She was frothy at the mouth. She was completely flaccid — she had no muscle tone. I got her to the side as quickly as I could and made sure somebody call 911.”
At about the same time, a woman who is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certified rushed to help Pearson, he said.
“I was trying to access for breathing. We did roll her over to the side to see if we could help. She was frothing at the mouth. We rolled her back. This lady started CPR and started chest compressions,” he said.
The baby’s mother quickly arrived as did the police and EMTs.
“After they showed up, the baby had opened her eyes up and started slowly to breathe. The police officers were able to get her to respond. In another 30 seconds, the baby started crying. At that point, I felt pretty good about things. A stretcher got her out there pretty quickly,” he said.
In previous accounts, the Standard Journal reported that two men helped with the rescue. In addition to Pearson, his brother Cody stood nearby during the incident. Police officers saw both Pearsons and reported that two men helped during the incident.
“Cody stood by my side as everything was happening,” Nicholas Pearson said.
In the meantime, Dr. Pearson helped calm the child’s mother.
“The baby came to fairly quickly. We got her revived within 45 seconds of getting her out of the water,” he said.
Pearson says that he’s so very grateful that he was there when medical training was needed.
“I’m just glad I was at the right place at the right time. I’m glad I could help her out,” he said.
The Pearson family remained at the pool until it closed. Yet, it took a while for everyone to calm down, he said.
“It definitely takes the wind out of your sails. Several people asked me ‘What does it feel like to be a hero?’ I don’t know if I’m necessarily a hero. I was there at the right time and in the right place. With my medical background, I wasn’t going to stand around,” he said.
Pearson noted that there were a lot of people at the pool on Thursday.
“The sheer number of people there — it would be hard to keep an eye on everybody,” he said.
The incident happened around 3:53 p.m. July 11, said Rexburg Police Captain Gary Hagan. He reported the little girl had been at Rexburg Rapids with her family and wandered into the deeper section of the kiddie pool.
“She kept walking and went to the deep end by the rope. She just went under. She walked toward the ropes and ended up going underneath,” she said.
Hagan warned families to be cautious around water, even at Rexburg Rapids.
“Everybody just needs to be cognizant where they’re children are at. Take swimming measures — life jackets and stuff life that,” he said.