Girl fine after close call in Grace Ridge pool
By Shavonne Potts
When Dean Thompson saw his daughter, Abby, take a breath after she was pulled from a community pool where she nearly drowned, it was a joyous moment.
“It was better than the day she was born. It was a big relief,” Thompson said Thursday.
Just four days ago, Thompson pulled his daughter’s lifeless body from the pool at the Grace Ridge subdivision.
The family returned from church on Sunday, had lunch and around 2 p.m., left to go swimming. The family had been at the pool for a bit when Abby, 4, had to use the restroom.
Her father took off her arm floats, put them on a nearby chair and waited for her outside the bathroom.
Thompson said it was crowded at the pool, so he sat at the opposite end talking with a neighbor. The young girl cannot swim and is only allowed in the 1-foot end of the pool.
When she returned to the pool, she did not have her arm floats.
Thompson said he didn’t realize she wasn’t wearing the floats until it was too late. He began looking for her.
About the same time, a young boy also at the pool, yelled that someone was at the bottom of the pool.
“I started yelling, ‘Get her up,’ ” he said.
Thompson jumped in and pulled his daughter out.
“It’s something I’ll never forget, seeing her in the bottom,” he said.
Abby was limp and blue. Her eyes were rolled back.
Thompson yelled for friend and neighbor Jack Dixon. Thompson has known Dixon since 2005.
Dixon, who is a Highway Patrol trooper, was on the other side of the pool and immediately rushed over.
“I was trying to get over to that side of the pool as quickly as I could,” he said.
There was chaos, with people screaming about what should be done and others milling around.
Dixon said he thought about nothing else but getting CPR started.
“My wife asked me if I remember all that. I didn’t,” he said Thursday at Thompson’s home.
He said it was like tunnel-vision. “There wasn’t time to think,” Dixon said.
He just acted.
The young girl’s mouth was clamped closed and Dixon worked to get her breathing.
He also instructed others standing by to call 911. Another neighbor, Rebecca Pressley, who is a nurse, also helped, Thompson said.
“I just started praying,” he said.
About 30 to 45 seconds passed from the time Dixon began until she took her first breath.
Abby opened her eyes, coughing and crying.
“I’m very grateful that God put the right people there,” Thompson said.
When EMS arrived, Thompson was cradling his daughter in a towel. The child was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast, where she stayed for two days.
The hospital observed Abby to make certain she did not have pneumonia.
Abby told her father she did not realize she didn’t have her floats on until she was already in the water.
“She’s so used to having them, she thought she did,” Thompson said.
He asked her why she didn’t just turn around and get out of the pool.
She said when she got into the water, she walked down the steps and everything was black.
Abby drifted to the deeper end of the pool. When Thompson pulled her out she was in the 4-foot area.
Of Dixon’s actions, Thompson said he didn’t think anyone else could have handled the situation quite like Dixon.
“I don’t think that anybody else would have been that calm,” Thompson said.
After the event that could have been much worse, Abby returned to the pool Wednesday and was fine, her father said.
There are new pool rules, Thompson added.
Abby cannot go near water or in the water without her floats. She will also be getting a new swimsuit with flotation material built into the suit.