Toddler nearly drowns, saved by fast-acting teacher

June 21, 2010 4:06:25 PM PDT
Houston police are trying to figure out how a two-year-old boy ended up at the bottom of a southwest Houston apartment swimming pool on Monday morning. The child nearly drowned. The boy was pulled from the pool at the Plantation Apartments on Sage near Meadow Lane just before 7am. The man who helped rescue the child spoke to Eyewitness News.

It was a tragedy in the making, but thank goodness an alert teacher was nearby and helped pull the little boy out of the pool.

Rescuer Rogelio Martinez, who was visiting his brother for the weekend, first saw a little boy about four years old crying by the side of the apartment complex's pool.

"And I saw a little boy over here and he was kneeled down and he was kinda crying," said Martinez. "He started throwing up water, so at that point I knew he had been drowning and he was trying to throw up all the water."

As a teacher about to join the Houston Independent School District in the fall, Martinez's instincts were to help the little boy. But as he was dialing 911, he noticed something else - another little boy in the water.

"At that moment, as the operator was coming on the line, at that time the little boy who'd been at the bottom of the pool floated up and I dove in, got him out, put him to the side and his body was just white," said Martinez.

He pulled the other child from the water and immediately began CPR. Rescue crews arrived soon after.

The child was the 2-year-old brother of the 4-year-old boy who had swallowed water in the pool. The children and their mother are said to have been visitors at the complex overnight. We're told the boys got up early while everyone else was asleep. They got out of the apartment around 6:20am, and their mother noticed them gone as soon as her alarm went off at 6:50am.

The pool is fenced as required by code. The gate appears to have a self-latching mechanism as required as well. Police are investigating, but it is one of those reminders to parents of young children that anything can happen at any time.

"To don't leave kids on their own and lock the doors safely. Put another lock on if necessary," said neighbor Rosalinda Cortez.

However, in the face of such tragedy, a teacher's instincts may have made a difference.

"In a classroom, you try to be three steps ahead of your students. In this particular case, it's a child, you don't know where the parents are, you don't know what the situation is, but it just didn't seem like things were, you know, normal," said Martinez.

He is set to start teaching this fall at Ortiz Middle School. He was in town finishing up paperwork and was visiting a relative at the apartment complex.

Police say the toddler was transported to Texas Children's Hospital and is expected to survive. His condition was last reported in ICU and the hospital says he is a no information patient.

According to Child Protective Services, so far this year there have been 14 drowning deaths in the greater Houston area.


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