McKINNEY, Texas - A North Texas family is grateful for a young lifeguard who helped save their 4-year-old son’s life.
Hannah Falk had just gotten certified as a lifeguard for the summer and it was her fourth day on the job. She never expected to have to use her training so soon.
“It was all so fast. I just remember seeing him and being like I have to save him. This is my job. I can’t screw up anything. I have to do this,” the 16-year-old said.
Ben Villarreal’s father had turned away for just a moment to put a life vest on his sister.
“Ben stepped away for a moment without him realizing it and went down the slide that’s at the pool,” said Samantha Villarreal, his mother.
Hannah said she was scanning the pool like usual and looked at the deep end. She saw the boy’s father jump in the pool and she jumped in too.
“She had her floatation device. She sprang off the chair. She jumped right in and grabbed him,” said Matt Gautreaux, a witness.
Ben was unresponsive with his lips turning blue.
“And we pulled him out of the pool and he was unconscious and had no vital signs at all. So I began CPR with the help of his father giving breaths,” Hannah said. “After a while, he started breathing again but he was still unconscious. He started throwing up and we turned him on his side.”
Ben made it to the hospital and was back at home one day later. He’s now happy and healthy with no ill effects from the near drowning.
This week his family met Hannah for the first time since the incident. She was honored by the city of McKinney for her life-saving efforts.
“I hadn't really thought about it until I saw the boy a couple days ago and I was like, ‘He would not have started kindergarten if I wasn't there and if his father wasn't there.’ So it really kind of hit me then,” she said.
“I don't think I could ever thank her or my husband enough for what they've done. I really, really can't. There will never be enough thank you's in the world,” Ben’s mother said.
Hannah said she wants to pursue a career in the medical field, possibly as a nurse. So far she’s gotten a good start on that path.
Ben’s mom said he’s continuing with his swimming lessons and making sure he doesn’t go in the water without asking an adult first.