Most parents know how easy it is to lose track of a child momentarily. Kids are moving targets, and the more kids, the more targets you have to keep your eyes on.
This lapse of tracking results in things like kids getting lost at the park or store — or in more dire situations, being nabbed by kidnappers or slipping under the water in a pool. Many times these cases are preventable and human error, but sometimes accidents happen in spite of multiple pairs of watching eyes.
One mother in particular recently experienced that when she went to the pool where there were plenty of adults swimming. Plenty of parents would do what she did, but nobody noticed when the 5-year-old disappeared underwater and didn’t come back up.
“My son drowned 3 days ago,” Maribeth Leeson began in her Facebook post. “His limp, gray, lifeless body was pulled from the pool and it was every mother’s worst nightmare. He was dead. I heard screaming, and after a minute realized the screaming was coming from me. I watched in slow motion as people rushed to him, as he was laid on the concrete, as CPR was started.”
“The reason I’m sharing? This happened in a pool full of people. A pool full of ADULTS.”
“I’ve read so many stories about kids slipping away from their parents and getting into a pool, to be found drowned shortly later. I’ve never considered the possibility that my child could drown right in front of people who were watching him bob up and down from the bottom of the pool to just below the surface, but didn’t think he was struggling because he looked like he was PLAYING.”
“When I found him myself, 2 feet from adults who were in the pool, my first thought was that it wasn’t him, that it was someone else’s kid who was seeing how long they could hold their breath. I can 100% understand why the adults who were RIGHT THERE didn’t recognize that he was drowning because when I saw him, I too thought he was just a kid who was playing. What tipped me off was the kid I saw was wearing a shirt: Adam had gotten in the pool in his shirt. He doesn’t know how to hold his breath. GET HIM OUT!!!! THAT’S ADAM!!!!”
The horrified mother accepted full responsibility for what happened, saying that she’d told him to stay put where he could reach the bottom while she got her daughter pool-ready.
“He has a very needy twin who makes it easy for me to forget that Adam is still 5 too and has needs that other 5-year-olds need. He’s not self-sufficient even though sometimes I feel like he is because he’s so capable. I didn’t tell him to get in the pool without his Puddle-jumper on, but I was aware that he had. I simply told him to stay in the shallow end while I got his sister’s swimsuit on, then I would be over.”
“I thought it was fine for 5 minutes, as he could touch just fine in the shallow end, he wasn’t alone because there were multiple adults IN the pool, and I’d be right next to the pool getting her suit on. Wrong. I have never ever been so wrong. He remembers what happened. He said he slipped off the edge. Based on where he was in the shallow end, and where we found him, he means the ledge from the shallow to the deep end. He said he kept going to the bottom then to the top and tried to yell ‘Mommy!’ It kills me to hear that. It kills me to know that his last thoughts were that mommy didn’t come for him. But God decided to give me another chance to do better. He gave my baby back to me. Now he knows I DID come for him.”
She detailed the minutes of CPR her friend helped perform on her son, and how eventually a flutter of life came back over her boy. An anxious ambulance ride to the hospital and hours of uncertainty ensued, the mother not knowing if her boy would ever quite be himself again.
Thankfully, he has made a miraculous recovery, and has even stated his interest in swimming again — though this time, he says, he’ll “wait for Mommy.”
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe for the family, as they had no insurance at the time of the accident.
“My family absolutely adores this family and it is my hope that we can help support them in this time of tremendous need,” Katie Finley Johnson, the page creator, wrote. “Please prayerfully consider making a donation to help offset some of their medical costs. Any amount would greatly appreciated and so extremely helpful. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
“It embarrasses Maribeth to admit they don’t have insurance, as David’s work doesn’t offer it and she has been PRN for the past year to be home more with all the kids,” posted another friend, Kristin Moon. “She went back full time but their insurance doesn’t kick in until August 1st.”
While the story is terrifying and was difficult for Leeson to post, she wanted to share it so that other parents like her could learn from her mistakes and avoid making their own with their dear children.
“I said I wasn’t going to share what happened. I feel so responsible (I am responsible!) because I let him get in without any sort of safety device on, and he was in before I personally was ready to watch him. But I decided to share because I see parents at pools doing these same things every single day! And I’m sharing to hopefully spread drowning awareness.”
“I’m sharing this because I want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Before going to any pool, first make sure your kids know not to get in until the adult who is responsible for them is ready to watch them.”
“I’m also sharing to thank my friend for saving him, to thank her over and over and over. I am eternally grateful to her and will never ever be able to repay her,” Leeson wrote.
“Please take water safety seriously. I never thought this would be me. It was me, but thanks to God and my dear friend Kristin, my son is still safely here. Learn from my mistakes so it’s not you.”
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