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Woman honored for saving boy's life

May 14, 2008

An emotional mother stood before a Gilbert Town Council meeting to thank the woman who saved her son's life after he nearly drowned last month.

Heather Turek, of Gilbert, held back tears Tuesday night as she told Jennifer Gawel how grateful she was to still have her 5-year-old son.

The town honored Gawel of Gilbert for performing life-saving CPR on Noah after he nearly drowned in a community pool while at party with his father on April 6.

"Just knowing I saved his life, he's going to be OK and he has his whole life ahead of him . . . its just overwhelming," Gawel said.

A unit technician at a local hospital, Gawel is trained in CPR and EMT.

She was with her 9-year-old son at the community pool when the incident took place.

Gilbert Fire Department spokesman Capt. Rob Duggan said getting children to breathe before emergency units arrive after a near-drowning can be key to survival and can decrease chances of long-term effects such as brain damage.

"If they breathe before we get there, they do really well," he said.

Duggan also said community pools are often dangerous because there are so many people around and everyone wrongly assumes someone is watching.

In Noah's case, it took only seconds from the time his father turned around to greet people for him to nearly drown.

"It can happen to anyone," said his father, Adam Turek.

Noah spent three days in the hospital after the incident, but recovered fully soon after.

On Tuesday, he was seen joyfully running around with his 8-year-old sister and 19-month-old brother.

His mom said he now takes swimming lessons and has jumped back in the water, although he's certainly more careful than before.

Noah was the second child involved in a near drowning in Gilbert this year.

A total of seven children nearly drowned last year.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Astrid Galvan
Copyright 2008 Arizona Republic

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