HOUSTON (KTRK) -- You may know David Nuno as ABC-13's sports reporter, but those close to him know him best as a family man. He's a husband and father who is constantly talking about his kids.
This summer, his 3-year-old Anneliese had a near death experience that changed Nuno's life, and he hopes sharing their family's story will save the lives of others.
With so much spunk and energy, it is hard to imagine what Anneliese has gone through.
"I was without my floaties, and I was going to shrink," she said.
She still is too young to grasp that she was going to sink, not shrink, that summer day at the pool.
"I was at my neighbor's house and then I was at the doctor for a long time. And a fireman come and a policeman come to get me, and I can't breathe," Anneliese remembers.
It was July 14 and the entire Nuno family was at their neighbor's backyard pool party. Nuno and his wife also have a toddler and 6-year-old twin boys. The twins can swim, but Anneliese was still learning.
"It's fishy floaties, and it had pink all over it," the child said of her pool floaties.
During the party, mom Elizabeth walked home with their toddler, leaving David with the other children at the pool.
"Anneliese says, 'hey daddy, I need to go to the bathroom.' She takes off her puddle jumper, which is a floatie in the front, we go to the bathroom," David Nuno recalled.
When they returned, David was called over to discipline his son about pool safety with Anneliese by his side. Then about a minute later, David said he heard a scream.
"Oh my God! The baby! And we look at the pool and Anneliese is floating at the top of the pool," David said.
It was a panic that Elizabeth heard while still at home with the toddler.
"I heard David screaming from the backyard," Elizabeth said.
David was in shock and didn't know CPR, so his neighbor took action.
"I immediately jumped the fence and ran over to my daughter, they had started some type of compression or CPR, but she was just laying there, totally blue from head to toe," Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth is CPR certified and vividly remembers jumping in and working to save her daughter.
"When I got to that 24th or 25th compression, she spit up that first time, and I'll never forget that first breath because it was this gasp. I was almost as if she was breathing through a straw, and at that point she opened her eyes a little bit," Elizabeth remembers.
And Annaliese remembers it too.
"The fire truck come, and the helicopter come, and daddy take me out, and mommy take me out in the helicopter," Annaliese said.
Annaliese was flown into the pediatric ICU.
"That night was terrible, I mean terrible - the crying, the what if's. The weird part is, I don't want to say I was in mourning, but I kind of was," David said. "It was the worst. I thought I lost my daughter. I thought I failed as a parent."
"At that point, we knew she may or may not wake up," Elizabeth said.
The couple spent hours in agony concerned about if their baby would wake up and the possible brain damage even if she did. Then the next morning, a miracle happened.
"She came to and started crying, and the first thing she said to me was "Da-Da," David said.
David said it wasn't easy, but within a few days, Annaliese was back to her old self.
Now, the Nunos are on a mission and they are sharing their story and urging the importance of knowing CPR.
"My wife said it best - that will never happen to us. That will never happen to us," Nuno said. "Do whatever you needed to do to save your child."
If you or someone you know would like to become CPR certified, the Junior League of Houston offers classes each week free of charge. You can register online here. For more information about CPR, visit the Houston CPR resources website.
Just days after Annaliese's near-drowning happened, Elizabeth wrote a personal message to other parents.
That Would Never Happen To Me - How My Daughter Nearly Drowned
July 20, 2014 at 10:51pm
By Elizabeth Nuno
We are SO happy to have our baby girl home. Thank you ALL for your thoughts and prayers. We know that we needed every single one of them. We almost lost her that night. If things had gone any differently we would be celebrating her life rather than witnessing the beauty of her smile and the rush of her laughter. We would like to share our story with you so that maybe this will not happen to you. We NEVER thought it would happen to us. We are not "those" kinds of parents. But I can imagine, neither are you.
The day we were discharged from the hospital, one of our doctors told us, "It takes four seconds for a child to drown." It is silent. There is no screaming or thrashing about. There is no cry for "Help."
Monday evening we were at our backyard neighbors' house for a BBQ and swimming. We had not swam there before. We have four children. Our 6-year-old twin boys do know how to swim, and though far from being strong swimmers were on the swim team this past summer. Our three-year-old, Anneliese, wears a Puddle Jumper when we are around the water, even if she is not swimming. Anneliese spent most of the evening swimming within arms' reach of an adult, and practiced leaving the steps for a moment and then getting back. This was the first time she displayed that type of confidence in the water. She was very proud and kept saying, "Look at me."
About 8:15/20p.m. Isla, my 18-month-old, started to get cranky so I left to put her to bed. We had not had dessert yet and I told my husband, David, to swim a little more, have dessert and I would come back to walk them home. I got home, made Isla a bottle, ready for bed and at the last minute decided to change out of my wet swimsuit before heading back.
SLIDING DOOR: While I was gone in that window, they continued to swim. Anneliese needed to go to the bathroom. Because she was wearing a one-piece swim suit, David removed her Puddle Jumper so that she could go to the bathroom. He took Anneliese inside to go the bathroom, while our male neighbor stayed outside with the other four kids, all of whom could swim.When David came back out, Christian was getting in trouble for jumping too close to the wall. Anneliese was still at David's side at that time as they both made comments to Christian about not doing that/warning him of his safety. In the time it took for David to look at a photo of what happened to our neighbor's child when he jumped too close to the pool edge (30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds? We can only guess.) Anneliese was gone. Into the water. When my female neighbor came out from cleaning up in the kitchen, she was the first to see Anneliese floating in the pool, face-down near the steps.
As I passed the back door to leave (It's right next to our bedroom) I heard a scream from the backyard. The second scream I heard, I realized it was David. I ran out across the backyard fully expecting to see one of our boys with a head injury. We had been cautioning and directing the boys to jump farther away from the pool wall all evening, had given timeouts, etc. When I looked over the fence,I saw Anneliese lying motionless on the deck.
I immediately jumped over the fence and rushed to my daughter's side. She was completely blue and she was not breathing, not moving. I honestly don't know if her heart was beating. Almost 15 years of required CPR training (lifeguard, group exercise instructor) and I felt like I didn't know exactly what to do but I just started moving. I started CPR/ABC's counting the chest compressions out loud and when I got to 25 she spit/vomited out water and more. She began to suck the air in through strong,loud wheezes; but no movement, no coughing, no crying which are what I expected. That's the kind of resuscitation you see in the movies or on TV!
Shortly after (though it felt like a long time) a constable arrived first to the scene, followed by the ambulance. Memorial Hermann Life Flight transported Anneliese to Memorial Hermann Trauma Center in the Med Center. She was intubated and on a breathing machine until 6AM the following morning. After she came off intubation we had to wait to see if her breathing would improve or there was a chance to need to put her back on the machine. We also had to wait and see if there was any neurological damage. We did not know how long she had gone without oxygen (combined time under water, and after being pulled out). Also, the doctors suspected that she had had a couple of seizures. The Trauma and Pediatric ICU medical teams were stellar at every step of her care. They were upfront with us about what was being done, what needed to be done and what the next steps might be given her condition. They were always calm and collected. They were awesome.
The first 24 hours of waking sessions (interspersed with longer sleep/rest sessions) were hard to tell how she was or if she was still "herself". Wednesday afternoon, for a bit, she did not recognize me. When we asked her who I was she just shrugged her shoulders. With each waking session there were moments of totally "her" and moments of "OMG what is wrong?"
She did know why she was there. We told her she was in the hospital, and we asked her if she knew why and she said point blank: "I went in the water without my floatie."
On Friday, our first full day at home, David asked me how I was doing. For a moment, I thought, absolutely fine. Anneliese is perfectly fine. I had a nightmare, a mother's worst nightmare, for almost three days and then I woke up. We sang and we danced. Everyone got on everyone else's nerves. Toys were stolen and recovered. Cookies were eaten. We went to the grocery store. We watched a movie. We brushed our teeth. She kissed me goodnight. She told me she loves me. I sat in the rocking chair to wait for her slumber as I had almost every night before Monday, July 14. Everything was normal. Everything was perfect.
SO my takeaways are these:
1) Don't ever feel like you are completely in control. You are not.
2) LEARN CPR and how to respond in an emergency. If you have kids, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends who have kids or if you are ever around kids you NEED to KNOW CPR. My husband, David, does not. I have showed him a couple times. That doesn't count. This is the first change we will make in our life moving forward. I'll be posting more info about CPR certification for EVERYONE.
3) Put your child's flotation device on any time you are around a body of water. Even if you are not planning to swim or think that your swimming activity is over. We believe that Anneliese got back in the water and "forgot" that her Puddle Jumper was not on. My family was finishing their swim and getting ready to leave when the incident happened.
4) If you have a female child who requires use of a life vest/puddle jumper or any type of flotation device you may want to consider a two piece swimsuit which does not require removal to go to the bathroom.
ABC-13 reporter shares daughter's near death experience