2-year-old Riverside girl meets heroes who saved her after almost drowning

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- For Lucinda Guillen, Labor Day will be remembered as the day she almost lost her 2-year-old daughter to a drowning.

"There were so many people in the pool that day, a lot of kids in the pool as well," recalled Guillen.

The mother of four had prepared to spend the day with family and friends at a Riverside apartment complex pool.

Her youngest daughter, Elina, had swam most of the morning wearing a safety swim vest.

"When we were sitting down eating, it got taken off of her so she could enjoy her meal," Guillen said. "Later, we asked if she wanted to get into the pool again and she said no."

But Elina did go back to the pool. Her mother believes due to a scratch on her forehead she fell in.

"All of a sudden, I heard someone yell "Whose baby is this?" and I saw her bathing suit and immediately I ran over there. I knew it was her," Guillen said.

Her daughter had been pulled from the bottom of the pool by one of the apartment's residents.

"She was blue when I got to her so I immediately started doing compressions on her," she said.

Guillen said Elina began to cough up water and portions of her lunch, but remained unconscious with no heartbeat.

"Initially, when the call came in it was a drowning victim, a 2-year-old drowning victim," said Capt. Tim Odebralski with city of Riverside Fire Department.

As emergency responders raced to the apartment complex, a Riverside police officer and fire battalion chief were close by and were the first to reach the child.

"Everything was telling me to do CPR until we can... get medical aid here to transport," said Officer Ian Crocker with the Riverside Police Department.

Crocker, a father of two young children, said his training took over. By the time fire rescue and paramedics arrived, Elina's heart had begun to beat again.

"Just because we had the heartbeat back she still wasn't breathing effectively on her own. So it was very important that we continued to breathe for her," said Will Harrison, a paramedic with American Medical Response.

After spending a week in the hospital, Elina is fully recovered and back home where she got to celebrate her third birthday this past weekend.

On Wednesday, she and her family got to personally thank some of the first responders who helped save her life.

"When we found out she made a full recovery we were just super, super ecstatic, pumped that she is alive and well," said Odebralski.

It was a rare win for first responders who often do not know what their patient's outcome is once the emergency call is over.

"It is something you never forget. It was a positive outcome this time. Very rare that we get the outcome that we want," said Harris.

"I can't lie and say it did not bother me or that I didn't think about it every day," said Officer Crocker. "Like I said I have kids of my own and it helps to have closure and know that things worked out because they don't always work out."

As for Guillen and her family - they have not been back to the pool since the incident.

"We do want to take a couple classes before we go back into the water; CPR and swimming lessons."
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