PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Multiple people stepped in to help rescue a child Sunday afternoon after a reported drowning at Portsmouth City Park, officials say.
The child was conscious when Portsmouth Fire Rescue and Emergency Services and Portsmouth Police responded to the park around 2:05 p.m. Patrons at the park had rescued the child and started CPR before EMS arrived, per Battalion Chief Andy Creekmore with Portsmouth Fire Rescue.
The child was taken to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters for further treatment for updates.
Frances McNeil was the first person to run in the water to rescue the child.
“I just went for it,” McNeil said with tears in her eyes. “I didn’t care if I got hurt. If the water was cold. It was just saving that child was all that was in my mind. I ran so fast to get to her and once I got to her I pulled her up. She wasn’t breathing. She was just limp and then another guy had come up right behind me and I just passed the baby over to him.”
Her husband, Larry McNeil, was on the phone with 911. He said the child was underwater for about a minute.
“They responded really fast,” Larry McNeil said. “I say within 3 or 4 minutes.”
Larry said another hero named Trever performed CPR.
“The whole time they were doing CPR, I’m like ‘come on baby! Come on breathe! Breathe,’ and as soon as she started crying. I started crying and saying ‘thank goodness’,” said Frances McNeil.
Another man carried Frances from the water on his back. She was also taken to the hospital for injuries she sustained during the rescue. Frances now has several cuts on her feet.
“I don’t care about my injuries as long as that little baby is OK,” she said. “I would do it all over again.”
While Frances recovers for the next couple of weeks, she is hopeful she will be reunited with the child.
“I’m glad that she is OK,” Frances McNeil said. “I just wish I could see her again and just give her a big hug.”
The couple wants the city to repair the wooden rails near the water. WAVY.com reached out to the city spokesperson to see if it will make repairs the rails.
In a Facebook post from the Portsmouth Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics Association, the local chapter recognized the bystanders that stepped in the save the child’s life.