KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL)- A 6-year-old boy is recovering at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City after reports of a near drowning at the Kingsport Aquatic Center on Thursday. Two lifeguards are being praised for quickly pulling 6-year-old Jesse Stayton out of the water and performing CPR.
News channel 11 spoke with Jesse’s mother, Stefanie Stayton, and Grandmother Kathy Vaughan, on Friday. Stayton said Jesse was diagnosed with epilepsy nearly two years ago and has since had over a dozen seizures each year. Vaughan said a seizure is what caused Jesse to tip forward into the water where he and his sister were swimming.
Jesse’s sister yelled for help as lifeguard Noah Rutherford spotted Jesse and sprang to action by administering CPR. In addition to being a lifeguard, Noah is an eagle scout with troop 48 in Kingsport. While Jesse’s family is praising Noah and the aquatic center employees for their swift action… others say heroism is in Noah’s nature.
Boy Scouts of America’s Sequoyah Council Scout Executive David Page said, “We’re excited for Noah but we’re more excited about the young person that he saved.”
“Scouting teaches young people character, leadership development, and lifesaving skills that Noah put into action,” he added. Page said that even though Noah wouldn’t seek praise for his lifesaving skills, the Sequoyah council is considering ways to honor Noah’s heroic actions at the aquatic center on Thursday.
Vaughan said she is thankful to the aquatic center’s staff. She said, “The aquatic center is a safe environment with an extremely well-trained staff.” She added that this is a horrible mishap but that she “cannot stress enough how safe and well monitored the center is.”
Stayton said Jesse did not take in water so there is no damage to his lungs or breathing. She added that Jesse loves to swim and that his first words at the hospital were ‘I want to go swimming’.
Noah’s lifeguard supervisor, Charlotte Raser, is also credited with helping save Jesse’s life. Both Raser and Noah kept calm and performed CPR immediately.
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