On Monday evening, a 2-year-old girl wandered unnoticed from her Topeka apartment. The toddler made her way to the onsite pool, which she entered through a gate that had been left open. She sat down, removed her shoes, then walked toward the edge of the pool, got down on her hands and knees, and dipped her foot in the water. Moments later, she fell face-first into the water, where video surveillance footage showed she struggled for over three minutes, gradually moving deeper into the eight-foot section of the pool.
This is the sort of story that would normally have a incredibly tragic ending -- but thanks to the brave actions of two children who are just 6 and 11 years old, the little girl is alive and well today.
Topeka police Sgt. Steve Roth described the footage of the incident, which was captured by a video camera on one of the apartment’s buildings:
It was horrible to watch the video. The only thing that made it tolerable was knowing that she was alive.
Roth says the toddler can be seen wandering toward the pool before she takes off her shoes and puts a foot in the water:
There is a step there (at the pool’s edge); she gets one foot down on that and as soon as she starts to stand up she falls. From that point on, she falls face first into the water and she struggles for over three minutes. I could not believe that. (...) She never went completely under to the point where she was unconscious. She bobbed up and down a few times.
My god, three minutes of being face-first in the water. I can't imagine.
A woman named Maria Marchand saw what was happening from the window of her family's second-floor unit and, not being a strong swimmer, asked her children to run and help the little girl. Her kids, Josias and Crystal Canul, ages 11 and 6, rushed to the pool.
Six-year-old Crystal said she was "really scared," but jumped into the water and swam out to the toddler, who was in the eight-foot section of the pool at that point. She was able to pull the little girl to the pool's edge, where her brother Josias lifted her to safety. The kids then began knocking on doors trying to figure out where the 2-year-old lived. Eventually, emergency personnel evaluated the girl, determined she was OK, and released her back to her parents.
I'm just sort of blown away by this entire story, really. It's heartbreaking to think of a toddler being able to get herself in such a dangerous situation like that, and I'm so amazed by these siblings who were brave and strong enough to save her life. I'm also maaaaaaybe a little freaked out by the idea of asking your 6-year-old to jump in a pool to rescue someone? But what a fortuitous thing that those kids were around and that they are such capable swimmers.
And wow, I cannot get the image out of my head of that little girl being in the water for so long. She is so, so lucky she's okay. I hope someone gives Josias and Crystal Canul the keys to the city or something.
Isn't it amazing what this brother and sister did?
Image courtesy of Corey Jones/The Capital-Journal