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‘Total miracle’ toddler found floating in Okanagan lake survived, rescuer says

Manitou Beach and Park in Naramata was the scene of a near drowning last Wednesday when a toddler was found floating head down.
Manitou Beach and Park in Naramata was the scene of a near drowning last Wednesday when a toddler was found floating head down. Global News

A Penticton, B.C., toddler is said to be doing well after nearly losing his life in Okanagan Lake.

Last Wednesday, Penticton resident Meghan Thompson and her daughters, aged 8 and 11, were enjoying the day at Manitou Beach and Park in Naramata when a near-tragedy occurred.

“It was very scary,” said Thompson.

Read more: Father’s Day tragedy: B.C. man dies trying to rescue daughter from Mill Creek waterfall

Thompson’s daughters were in the lake playing when they spotted a toddler floating head down in the water.

Her eldest daughter, Kennedy, came running onto the beach to alert her mom.

“She came running out to me and said, ‘mom, I need your help, I don’t think this baby is OK,'” Thompson told Global News.

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Thompson said she dropped everything and ran waist-deep into the lake.

“I grabbed the baby — he was just so heavy, he was completely unresponsive. He was floating with his legs and arms wide open at the very top of the water, face-down,” she recalled.

“I ran back to the shore and I was yelling at this point, ‘Somebody help me, Somebody help me.'”

Read more: Okanagan brothers given medals of bravery for saving three boys, one man at risk of drowning in 2013

Fortunately, Chad Taylor was on the beach that day. The off-duty firefighter sprang into action and began performing CPR on the 18-month old boy.

“To be honest, I didn’t know what the outcome was going to be,” Taylor said.

“I can’t recall how long I was doing CPR, just less than a few minutes and he started to make some noises and come around, so his colour came back, his pulse came back, he started breathing, so yeah it was a very intense scene.”

It’s not known how the child ended up in the water or how long he had been submerged.

His family was at the park but seemingly unaware the child had wandered off on his own.

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“I encourage people not to judge the parents and the grandparents and the family,” Taylor said. “These things happen.”

Click to play video 'Penticton Fire Department issues warning for channel floaters' Penticton Fire Department issues warning for channel floaters
Penticton Fire Department issues warning for channel floaters – Jun 26, 2020

According to Thompson, the mother came running as the child was being resuscitated on the beach.

“The mom had come down, she was a little bit higher up on the beach,” Thompson said.

“She had said she thought that he was playing in the park. She was very upset when she realized that the baby, you know, was hers and what was going on to the point we had to kind of rub her back because we were still trying to make sure the baby was OK.”

While Taylor acknowldged the role he played in saving the young boy’s life, it’s the two young girls and their mother he credits the most.

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“It’s a total miracle,” Taylor said. “Meghan’s girls are totally heroic for alerting their mom and for Meghan to run like that and grab this baby. There are so many things that had to go right and they just did.”

The close call has left Thompson shaken.

“It was the worst thing that that I have ever experienced in my entire life,” she said. “Nobody saw him go into the water, nobody saw him drowning, nobody saw him floating — like, nobody had any idea and that’s just how quickly it can happen.”

While Taylor is used to responding to emergencies, this one, he said, has hit him hard, even with the successful outcome.

“What’s surprising to me is how emotional I have been,” Taylor said. “I’m just really thankful how it worked out.”

The near-tragedy has Taylor reminding everyone heading out to the beach this summer to play it safe.

“Definitely want to urge people to be safe around the water,” he said. “Let’s all be smart, let’s look out for each other, let’s wear life jackets, let’s keep our eyes on our children and other people’s children, because it really does take a village to raise children and we all need to look out for each other.”