It took seconds for a green inner tube meant to hold 3-year-old Kali Dallis above water to flip on its side, plunging the girl headfirst into the pool at her Chamblee apartment complex.
Kali had jumped into the shallow end with the small pool float around her waist. When the float tipped, she became trapped with her feet in the air. Then her body slipped out of the tube, and she went under.
Surveillance footage from The Savoy apartments on May 15 shows Kali’s sister, Jayla Dallis, jump into action, Channel 2 Action News reported. She had just gotten out of the pool when she turned around and saw her sister’s body underwater.
The 10-year-old ran, leaped into the pool and dragged her sister out.
“She was, like, heavy, so I had to pull her by her hair, then I grabbed her by her waist and pulled her up,” Jayla Dallis told Channel 2 in an exclusive interview.
Kali was released from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite on Friday after two weeks in the hospital.
“I’m fortunate to be able to take my baby home after two weeks of being here,” her mother, Daneshia Dallis told Channel 2 as the family left the hospital.
Dallis credits her older daughter and the quick response of a Chamblee police officer for saving Kali’s life.
Sgt. Ed Lyons, a veteran officer and the father of a 6-year-old girl, was about two miles away at the Chamblee Police Department when he got the call that a little girl had drowned. Footage from his body camera, obtained by Channel 2, shows the officer race toward the complex and to the pool, where Kali’s aunt and the apartment manager were attempting to perform CPR.
“I saw my little girl lying there, same little bathing suit she wears, same kind of hair pulled up in a bun up top,” Lyons told the news station. “You know, you’ve got to kind of push past that and do what you're trained to do.”
By the time an ambulance arrived, the 3-year-old was spitting up water and Lyons was able to find a pulse, but she was still unconscious. She was hooked up to a ventilator for several days at Scottish Rite.
Doctors anticipate Kali will make a full recovery, Channel 2 reported. Her mother calls it a miracle.
“Don’t take your eyes off of them,” Daneshia Dallis warned. “All the floats are not safe. Be careful. Watch your kids.”
Dallis said after what happened, she plans to enroll her daughter in swimming lessons.
The incident could have ended very differently. According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, considering the number of fatal drownings between 2005 and 2014, drowning accounts for about 10 deaths per day nationwide. About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and under.
It’s the second-leading cause of death for children under 14 behind vehicle crashes, according to the CDC.
Recently, Lyons visited Kali at the hospital. The 3-year-old, who is now off the ventilator and walking around, gave the officer a hug and, with a little prompting, thanked him.
“You’re amazing,” Lyons told the girl.
Tips for staying safe when in the water:
1. Fence in all pools and spas.
2. Learn to swim or at least know survival skills, such as floating.
3. Provide constant attention to children.
4. Wear life jackets when on a boat. Children and inexperienced swimmers should also wear life jackets.
5. Swim in an area with a lifeguard when possible.
6. Know the signs of someone in trouble.
Source: American Red Cross
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