With summer on the horizon, kids across the country will soon be headed back into the water. That means swimming, diving and all sorts of fun in the sun. However, along with all these aquatic activities comes a sobering reminder on the dangers that accompany them.
Three-year-old Kali Dallis was enjoying some pool time with her 10-year-old sister, Jayla, at the family’s home in Atlanta, Georgia. It was just another day until things took a dramatic turn.
Wearing a green inflatable tube around her waist, Kali jumped into the pool as she has likely done many times before. Surveillance footage from the apartment complex shows the toddler leaping in, her head lunging forward as the floatation device meant to keep her safe was now keeping her trapped upside down. She thrashes and tries unsuccessfully to right herself, struggling to keep her head above water for what feels like an eternity to any parent watching.
Then, from across the pool, her sister Kayla sees Cali in distress and leaps into action. With no hesitation, the 10-year-old dives in and pulls her sister out of the water and up onto the concrete. The girl’s aunt, who was also out by the pool, ran over along with a staff member and began performing CPR on the toddler as a bystander who saw the commotion called 911.
Sergeant Ed Lyons, an officer who happened to be in the area, received the call and arrived on the scene moments later. The father of a little girl himself, Lyons told local TV station WAFB it was as if he saw his own daughter lying there. “Same little hair pulled up in a little bun up top. You know you kind of have to push past that and do what you’re trained to do.”
Kali was immediately taken to the hospital in critical condition where Daneshia Dallis, the girls’ mother, rushed to her side. As doctors tended to Cali, Daneshia was shown video of the terrifying incident as well as her older daughter’s act of bravery. “As a 10-year-old, to think about all of that in a traumatic situation, I’m so proud of her, I don’t even know what to do,” the girls’ mother said.
Kali spent the next two weeks in the hospital recovering but has now returned home, happy and healthy once again. Her mother Daneshia, glad to have her child home safe, says she also wants other parents to learn from the family’s situation. “Don’t take your eyes off of them. All the floats are not safe. Be careful. Watch your kids.”
Experts say tragedies like this can happen quickly, and that parents should stay within arm’s length when young children are in a flotation device. While this story has a happy ending, many do not. After birth defects, drowning is the leading cause of death for children between one and four. According to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors are now suggesting kids learn to swim beginning at age one.
For more information on drowning prevention, the folks at HealthyChildren.org have compiled a list of tips to help keep your little ones safe.