Drowned teen’s sister crosses critical threshold in recovery

Doctors removed the breathing tube Sunday from the little sister of a Newnan teen who drowned in Chattahoochee River trying save her.

Kendall Calhoun’s condition was improving and the family of the six-year-old hopes doctors also will remove her neck brace later today. She was awake and talking in the intensive care unit at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Eggleston, according to her grandmother, Jeanette Calhoun.

It was unclear if she knew about the death of her sister, Alyssa Calhoun, 14, who drowned Friday trying to keep Kendall afloat after a current in the river suddenly swept them away, said Calhoun.

“Right now, she’s doing a whole lot better,” Calhoun said. “We don’t know if she remembers any of it or not. Right now we are not pushing her on that issue.”

The accident occurred druing a family picnic at McIntosh Reserve Park in Whitesburg in Carroll County. The girls were in a shallow part of the river when Kendall lost control of a swim noodle they were using. Alyssa could swim but Kendall was just learning, her grandmother said.

“Right where they were it was calm,” she said. “In a blink of an eye it changed. The current was just too strong.”

Their father, Jason Calhoun, tried desperately to save his daughters, but he doesn’t swim very well and struggled in the water and almost drowned himself, she said

“She died a hero saving her baby sister,” Jeanette Calhoun said. “She took Kendall up and lifted her up above her head.”

Alyssa, who the family nicknamed "Ally Rat," was a freshman at Newnan High School and she would have turned 15 this August. Her grandmother said the family needs help paying for Alyssa's funeral and has set up a gofundme account to help cover costs.