WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — Trying to escape the latest heat wave, Crystal Horrocks and her daughter Kathleen drove up from Bartow to their friend’s apartment complex in Winter Haven and the pool they so desperately wanted to cool off in.
While lounging waterside at the Carlton Arms Apartment Complex, Kathleen glanced over and saw a man go in the deep end, struggle to swim, then go under. He didn’t come up for air.
“I thought that maybe I could pull him,” Kathleen recalled. “But I knew that I would be too small, so I went and got my mom.”
But Crystal didn’t see anything.
“My mom kept on looking over there and there was three kids over there acting like nothing was going on and then she was like, ‘Nothing’s there. Nothing’s there,'” said Kathleen. “And then I was like, ‘Mom, Mom, there’s something there.'”
Finally, Crystal relented, just in time.
“And then she’s like, ‘Mom, seriously, someone was there,'” Crystal remembered. “Then I went to look and then I noticed someone was at the bottom of the pool.”
Crystal jumped in, checked the 33-year-old wasn’t faking, then pulled him up to the surface of the water while a bystander helped pull the man onto the ground around the pull. Crystal then saw what drowning looks like up close.
“It was scary,” Crystal said. “His eyes were popped out of his head. You would think it’s a Halloween character.”
Crystal began CPR on the victim while others called 911.
“I’ve never been in that situation before and I didn’t even know what to do,” Crystal said. “I mean, there was even a comment like, ‘I’m not for sure, I’ve been in training before,’ but it’s a different total experience to actually be doing it.”
After some chest compressions, the man coughed up water, then slumped back down. But like her daughter just a few minutes earlier, Crystal persisted. During a second round of compressions, the man finally came to.
“I was just thankful,” Crystal said. “Because I know you can break ribs and everything was just by the grace of God that it went very smoothly.”
The Winter Haven Police Department praised both Kathleen and Crystal for their quick thinking and persistence. Police also reminded residents that, especially during the summer, they should be alert around bodies of water and can check with their local Red Cross or Citizen CPR to find a class nearby. Crystal said she signed up for a refresher course after she had to do it at the pool.