Bystander rescues child after near-drowning in pool

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WALLA WALLA -- A Walla Walla-area boy is alive today thanks to the life-saving skills of a bystander, according to the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office.

At just before 6 p.m. on Monday, emergency responders were alerted that Jaden Coleman-Hernandez, 6, had been found not moving at the bottom of a private swimming pool.

The occasion was a family party at 1903 Smith Road in the Dixie area, noted Undersheriff Eddie Fryer. Jaden had been snorkeling in the pool, surrounded in the water and on land by family members, including his guardians, Thomas Schmerer and Tyson Harlow.

"This is not a case where a child was left unattended."

The boy was wearing a swim mask that covered his eyes and nose - the attached snorkel may have allowed water into the mask, Fryer speculated. "At some point, someone noticed the kid at the bottom of the pool."

Jaden was not without air for more than a few minutes, the undersheriff believes.

As soon as the boy was brought out, Michael Espinoza, 27, started CPR, Fryer said. By the time assistance from Walla Walla and Dixie fire departments arrived, Jaden was breathing and had a pulse, according to reports.

He was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, then flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, where he was reported in stable condition this morning.

Having Espinoza on hand averted what was certain to have been a tragedy, Fryer said. "It could have had a much worse outcome."

In his experience in Southern California, pool drownings in the summer were a common occurrence, he added. "Knowing CPR is vital. It's very important you take these classes as they are offered in the community, even if you never have to pull it out of your bag if tricks. Especially families that have young children.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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