Mack saves young boy from drowning at party

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

After pulling Ivan Urias to safety, Nate Mack explains to the boy that he may need to stay down closer to the shallow end if he could not swim well. | Courtesy photo

Thanks to the quick thinking and training of Cooper Pool lifeguard and graduating senior Nate Mack, an Andalusia Elementary fifth grader is safe after a near drowning experience Thursday.

The day was like any other day before the end of school – filled with good times and laughter as the school’s fifth grade held its graduation/promotion ceremony.

To bring the day to a close, a celebratory pool party was held. Candace Hudson, an AES parent, estimated the fifth grade crowd at 100.

“While I was there with lots of other parents, I saw a situation that was not looking so good,” Hudson said. “One of the kids had jumped off the diving board and was struggling in the water his head was bobbling up and down in the water not being able to swim.”

It was the same situation Mack saw and quickly recognized the signs of a distressed swimmer.

“There were four of us (lifeguards) on duty that day,” Mack said. “I was just sitting there watching the kids taking turns jumping of the diving board. I saw one boy jump off and I watched him as he sunk straight to the bottom. He tried to fight his way back up. I wasn’t sure if he was playing or seriously drowning or what.

“I stood up and saw then he was struggling, and I guess he saw me stand up, he looked at me at uttered the word ‘help,’” Mack said. “Well, I jumped right in.”

It took less than a minute for Mack to gain control of the situation and bring the boy to the safety of the shallow end of the pool.

“When I got him up, I asked if he knew how to swim,” Mack said. “He said, ‘kinda.’ I told him right then it was the shallow end of the pool for him, and no more jumping off the diving board.”

Parents “applauded” as he made his way back to the lifeguard platform, Mack said.

Hudson said she felt Mack and the other lifeguards should be commended for the job they do each summer.

“I think it’s wonderful that our young people in our community are trained to do some tough jobs sometimes,” Hudson said. “I do not think there was anyone or at least a very few that knew what had just happened in the water with a child’s life in danger. Within a moment, that child’s life could have went either way, and knowing as a parent, I would not have been able to thank Nate enough for doing what he did for that young child struggling in the water. He literally saved his life.”

Mack was very nonchalant about his actions.

“This is my third year as a lifeguard, and believe it or not, it’s rare that a week goes by in public swimming that a kid is not saved,” he said. “They range in age from 5 to 10 and haven’t had a single swimming lesson. They think they can swim, but they’re dead wrong. They can touch the bottom and sink like a rock.

“This is what we train for,” he said.