Hear from the hero lifeguard who saved a 9-year-old girl’s life at a Piedmont Triad pool

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NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- An 18-year-old lifeguard saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning Tuesday morning at a North Wilkesboro pool.

Around the time the pool opened, at 10 a.m., employees at Smoot Park Pool say about 50 children began to enter the pool. Among them, was a 9-year-old girl.

“They all jumped in, I saw the girl get in, she was doing fine,” recalled Hunter Church, head lifeguard at the pool.

The girl began to seemingly play, before becoming motionless, face-down in the water.

“Several times a day, we have kids lay on their stomach they float, they even teach it in swim lessons, how to do like a dead man’s float,” Church said.

However, after watching the girl for several seconds, Church realized she was drowning.

“About 45 seconds, I knew something was wrong, so I jumped in and turned her over, and immediately knew she was unconscious, no pulse,” Church said.

Church pulled the girl to the side of the pool while her teachers looked on.

“They were all shocked. They jumped back and screamed when I turned her over,” Church said, of the teachers.

Church told FOX8 she performed CPR on the 9-year-old for about two minutes before she regained consciousness.

“She did throw up a lot of water, but mainly she was squeezing my hand and did not let go until the paramedics took her away,” Church said. “She was looking me right in the eyes and I just continuously told her it was OK.”

Paramedics arrived at the pool shortly thereafter and transported the girl to a local hospital where she spent the night, Church said.

“The paramedics themselves did not have to perform any CPR, we had her back before that,” she added.

Church said that the girl was about 4-and-a-half feet tall, and the water in which she nearly drowned, was only 3-and-a-half feet deep. To her, it’s a reminder that someone can drown, even if they are able to stand with their head above the surface.

“Another few seconds and I don’t think we would have got her back, I mean, it was close,” she said.

The incident also serves as a lesson for parents, to make sure their children can swim, and are properly equipped and prepared before entering the water.

“The guards are here to save your kid, but you’re just as much responsible to take care of your child,” Church said.

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