Boy, 6, rescues friend, 5, from pool drowning

Tue, 06/03/2008 - 3:51pm
By: Ben Nelms

Boy, 6, rescues friend, 5, from pool drowning Friends Haden Stusak, 6, and Josiah Buddha, 5, play in the same pool that was nearly the scene of Josiah’s drowning recently. Josiah and Haden were back at it Monday, swimming and having a good time like nothing had happened. Photo/Special.

“That’s what friends do.”

That statement sums up the what happened when a 6-year-old boy saved his friend’s life last weekend at a graduation swimming party at a residence in south Fayette County.

Six-year-old Haden Stusak was having fun in the pool along with 10 to 15 others who had arrived for the party at Karen Bellucci’s home near Brooks. There were nearly 40 people at the party for a family friend who had just graduated from high school.

It was a nice day for a party and for swimming, with temperatures in the 80s and clear skies overhead. Nearly 15 people were in the pool, while about two dozen more were poolside enjoying the day, said Bellucci.

Without warning or explanation, a woman standing by the pool dived into the deep end, swimming toward the bottom of the pool. Young Haden Stusak was in the pool and, like the woman, he also dived underwater.

Many in and out of the pool did not know and did not notice at first what was happening, not until Haden, who tops out near 50 pounds, had grabbed 5-year-old Josiah Buddha off the bottom of the pool, brought his 34-pound friend to the surface, pulled him up the ladder and dragged him out of the pool.

Josiah showed no signs of life. Josiah had unexplainably taken off the floaters he was wearing and sank into the deep end.

“Help, he’s drowning, he’s drowning,” Haden yelled, his mother Deborah said, recalling the event. She had been sitting alongside the pool with Josiah’s mother, Judy. “I didn’t realize he’d done it until people starting saying, ‘Thank God for Haden.’”

A nurse and doctor attending the party were two of several who responded to Haden’s call. They quickly began administering CPR after finding no heartbeat and no respiration, Deborah said Monday.

“It was every bit of five minutes that they worked on him before he came back,” Judy Buddha explained. “By the time the ambulance got there, he was back and talking.”

There are few words that can describe the nightmare any parent would experience as they watch their child at the point of death. Deborah sat holding Judy by the side of the pool as others worked to bring life back to her son’s still body only feet away.

“It was surreal. I thought I had lost my baby,” Judy said Monday afternoon, her voice still shaking from the fright. “Haden is a hero. He’s amazing. He went in there like a fish and got Josiah. My husband and I are so grateful for Haden and all our friends who helped us.”

Paramedics and police quickly arrived at the south Fayette residence to find Josiah revived and talking. He was initially taken to Piedmont Fayette Hospital and transferred to an Atlanta hospital overnight for observation. One day later, Josiah was ready to go swimming again.

And perhaps like any hero, Haden took the tragedy-turned-triumph in stride. His comment to his grandmother Karen Bellucci and others that day on his actions to save Josiah, “That’s what friends do.”

Given the circumstances, it all ended better than anyone might have expected. Judy and her husband made a trip to the store Sunday to purchase new floaters and a child-proof life jacket to ensure that there will not be another incident.

Members of all the families affected had only praise for Haden, for those who resuscitated Josiah and the medical personnel who arrived.

As for Haden and Josiah, they were back in the pool Monday afternoon.

June 1-7 is CPR Awareness Week. A recent American Heart Association survey showed that few Americans are confident they could perform CPR in a life-threatening situation. The need for CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillation) is no stranger to Fayette County.

“CPR and early deployment of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) has saved many lives in our Fayette community and can save many more in the future,” said Fayette Fire and Emergency Services Interim Director Allen McCullough.

"If a person suddenly stops breathing and has no signs of life, you should quickly call 911 to summon EMS and call for an AED to be brought if one is available and begin providing hands-only CPR compressions in the center of chest,” McCullough said. ”Push hard, push fast and push deeply until EMS arrives or until you see signs of life such as the patient begins to breath or move.”

McCullough said Fayette County Fire and EMS will be initiating a comprehensive community strategy in the near future to further address cardiovascular disease, both in training of the community in CPR and AED and in the management of heart attack and stroke.

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Submitted by Jamie-Mac on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:37am.

The fact of the matter of this "That's what friends are for".

This kid is hero, he saved his friends life.

Can't we do this as a adult?

Wouldn't you?

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:45am.

I would hope so!

Submitted by Jamie-Mac on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:51am.

Adults teach their children values. Well, let me correct that some do.

I say let's all quit living in the past. Then would we have this problem? NO.

Submitted by USArmybrat on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:36am.

I have been sitting here reading the posts about all the politics and thinking how negative it all is and then I see this article. How nice to read something with such a wonderful ending! And leave it to a child to sum it all up with a comment like "That's what friends do". That young and he already understands that simple but great thought.

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:06am.

This is the reality of Fayette County. Families of kindred tastes teaching their children how to live as true Americans. Wonderful story!

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Submitted by Cyclist on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 8:15am.

This is truly newsworthy!!!
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

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