Right Place Right Time: Vacationing Mom Saves Toddler
Darci Gillen Dawson, 42, grew up in Lewistown, Montana, but now lives in Seattle. She and her family were on a summer vacation at their family cabin at Warm Spring Creek back near her childhood home.
She went down to the stream to cool off a bit and upon making her way back to the cabin, something caught her eye.
There, at the edge of her vision, a small body floated by. It could have been mistaken for a piece of trash – perhaps some driftwood or a forgotten child’s toy. But it wasn’t a toy, this was a real child – a small boy dressed in a diaper, shorts and a T-shirt.
He floated by at the edge of Darci’s line of sight, arms and legs spread loosely in the stream, eyes half open staring up through the water at the sky.
“I could not believe what I was seeing,” she said. “He was face-up, probably five inches under water. He wasn’t on top or struggling or doing anything. He was just floating, actually, sadly enough, very peacefully. I just said, ‘Oh my God’ and ran down the stream.”
“He was moving with the stream, underwater quickly,” Darci said of the moment. “By the time I turned and glanced over my shoulder he was already past. He’d floated under our bridge and was already down a ways.”
There was no time to make a plan or turn to someone else for help. Darci ran down the creek to catch up with the small, drifting body. She shouted to her parents: first to call 911.
When Darci reached the little boy, she scooped him up from under the water. The baby’s skin was gray and cold to the touch. His lips were blue.
“I had to just run upstream in the water,” she said. “I was just carrying him right up the stream until I could get him to a place where I could put him down and started working on him. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. It was just awful, awful, awful.”
Throughout her summer breaks during high school and college, Darci worked as a lifeguard at the Lewistown City Swimming Pool. As part of her training, she’d been required to pass annual lifesaving and CPR classes – skills she’d maintained throughout her career as a teacher.
She ended up saving the young boy’s life and his parents who had been frantically searching for him are forever grateful.
credit Great Falls Tribune
Photo: Jenny Gessaman/Lewistown News-Argus
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