SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – For longtime Sarasota County Deputy Mike Nickerson, Nov. 28 is a day he’ll never forget. On that day, he saved the life of a toddler who was nearly gone.

It’s the kind of story that brings tears to your eyes, the kind of story where a little girl named Charlee was given the ultimate gift this holiday season.

Two heroes from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office breathed life back into her tiny body after she was found without a pulse.

The 14-month-old nearly drowned in the family pool, according to sheriff’s investigators who described what happened as, “a terrible accident.”

Thanks to the quick actions of two deputies, baby Charlee is alive to celebrate Christmas this year.

Deputy Nickerson stopped by to check on the toddler Tuesday, bringing presents to the family’s home in Venice.

The 25-year veteran with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office broke down in tears as he shared the details of that harrowing day.

“I have three kids of my own and I can’t imagine,” he told 8 On Your Side, pausing as he shared the details. “But, she’s perfectly normal, mom gave me a huge hug, said, you’re my hero. I told her, me and my partner are. So many people helped.”

When Deputy Nickerson answered the 911 call that day, it was fate.

He was close by, a mere two blocks away. He admits he was nervous as he rushed to the house, wondering what he’d find, hoping his lifelong training would kick in quickly.

It did.

Deputy Nickerson says his heart was broken when he was what was waiting for him in the Venice driveway – baby Charlee, just 14-months-old, lying in her mother’s arms motionless.

“Cutest kid known to man,” said the deputy, wiping away tears. “I talked to mom today on the phone, and mom said, I want you to be part of her life. She goes, you know, without you she wouldn’t be here.”

The deputy was the first on-scene and began CPR on the hood of the family car, then rushed Charlee’s body into a waiting ambulance where he and his partner, Deputy Tony Egoville, performed the longest CPR of their careers.

“It chokes you up, trust me, it’s a kid. Kids mean a lot, it’s a big difference. I don’t know why, it just is. Every human is the same, but a kid is just more emotional, especially having kids of my own,” the deputy told us.

Charlee was intubated for days at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg where she fought to stay alive.

This little miracle is now home with her family – healthy, happy and doing great. Doctors say her prognosis looks excellent with an anticipated 100 percent recovery.

For this family, Christmas will forever hold a new meaning – knowing two heroes never gave up on their little girl.

“I don’t even have the right words to say thank you,” said Stephanie Ryan, the child’s mother. “This will be the best Christmas ever, thanks to the sheriff’s office.”

In the end, the deputies say this is the reason they chose this career – to help others and save lives, like baby Charlee.

They tell us, she is their reason.


The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook Tuesday saying the child was rushed to All Children’s Hospital where she was intubated for 10 days after she fell in her family’s pool. 

Now back home, Deputy Nickerson stopped by to check-in and drop off a few Christmas presents for young Charlee who is doing great.

Charlee’s mother says Deputy Nickerson will forever be a part of her family.

Deputy Nickerson, who has served for nearly 25 years, tells us this will forever be one of the most impactful calls of his career.