Woman and teen honored for saving toddler’s life in near-drowning incident

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A woman and a teen are being praised for saving a toddler’s life after he almost drowned last month.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office honored 14-year-old Luke Dorow and Karen Brown on Tuesday.

Three-year-old Cal Harry and his family had been swimming at a neighbor’s house when Dorow spotted the toddler underwater in the deep end, and knew something was wrong.

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“He looked like he needed help, which was my instinct to pull him out of the water,” Dorow explained.

That’s when Cal’s aunt, Karen Brown, jumped into action and performed CPR on the boy.

“I’ve taken CPR for the past 15 years ... You don’t think you’re ever going to need to use it,” Brown said.

Paramedics rushed Cal to Wolfson Children’s Hospital where he made a full recovery. His parents, Mandy and Dean Harry, want to turn their son’s brush with death into a warning for other families.

“I want everyone to know that this happens to good parents who love their kids,” Mandy Harry said, adding that she’s learned a lot since then: “I would’ve gotten him in swim lessons much earlier, even as an infant ... I would stay with him within arm’s reach.”

Harry also warns against puddle jumpers, floatation devices small children wear around their arms.

“It’s a false sense of security for the child, he thought he could swim, he forgot he did not have his life jacket on,” Harry explained.

“Starting CPR in an emergency situation is so important, and we really count on our community,” said Jessica Winberry, Prevention Coordinator for The PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

She adds that drowning is the No. 1 preventable death that happens to children ages 1 to 4 years old.

Winberry suggests parents put fences and other barriers around pools, along with self-locking gates. She says most importantly, adults should be actively supervising children in the water.

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The Harry family is forever grateful to Dorow and Brown, along with the St. Johns County first responders, for taking quick action.

“He’s such a special little boy and we’re so happy we still have him,” Harry said.