I was praying, ‘Jesus, revive my baby’
Published: July 10, 2006 | 4430th good news item since 2003
Leanne and Brad Carlson of Olympia say there’s a reason their daughter, Beth, 5, came back from the brink of drowning at a recent family reunion.
That would be that Beth’s close call is a wake-up for other parents to reassess how prepared they are for emergency situations.
“The ironic thing is we are always that family who has the first aid kit in the car. We’re the ones who are prepared,” Leanne Carlson said. “We’re a very careful family, and if this could happen to us, it can happen to anybody.”
The Christian family also believes that God had a hand in Beth’s recovery. People as far away as Australia and England prayed after their friends and family alerted folks they knew near and far to pray for the girl.
“I believe that the Lord would have healed her with our faith alone, but this touched so many people. Their faith was listened to,” Carlson said.
Two Saturdays ago, Beth became one of the dozens each year in Washington state who are injured or killed in water accidents. According to the state Department of Health, 97 people drowned and 48 were injured in 2004, the most recent numbers available.
The health department also reports that drowning is the second-leading cause of injury deaths for Washington children ages 17 and younger. In that same age group, drowning accounts for a yearly average of 24 deaths, there are 26 hospitalizations for near-drownings, and about 110 water-related visits to the emergency room are made statewide.
As a result of this most-recent accident, Leanne Carlson said that now she will no longer take children to Black Lake without her husband.
Brad Carlson, a former lifeguard, saved his daughter’s life by pulling her from a pool and giving her CPR.
Leanne Carlson also vows to retake a CPR course.
“I know that I could not do what Brad did,” she said. “It’s made me face my limitations.”
“I see the moms at Black Lake with their kids. It makes you think about how many of them may be unprepared if something happens,” Brad Carlson said.
The Carlsons’ ordeal started when 30 members of Leanne Carlson’s extended family were cleaning up to leave a community pool. The Carlsons’ older daughter, Brenna, 8, alerted her father that Beth had been at the bottom of the pool “for a long time,” Brad Carlson said.
Brad Carlson, a competitive swimmer in high school and college, had been a lifeguard years ago, but his daughter was the first unconscious person he ever rescued. He jumped in and spotted his daughter’s striped swimsuit at the bottom of the pool.
“My lifeguarding instincts kicked right in,” he said.
After pulling her out, he was joined in his resuscitation efforts by Leanne’s relative, Jack Bryan, a retired California Highway Patrol officer.
Beth struggled to breathe as medics took her to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, where she was later taken by medical airlift to Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.
Both of her parents were with her in the ambulance to Kadlec, they said.
“I was praying, ‘Jesus, revive my baby,’ over and over,” Leanne Carlson said. “It was the most desperate, gut-level prayer I had ever prayed.”
Just then, Leanne’s cell phone rang, and she picked it up and spoke into it without even looking at it.
The caller was her neighbor, Brenda Arend, who was pet sitting for the Carlsons and called with a question.
“She was saying something like, ‘Help us, Jesus. Beth almost drowned. Please pray,’ ” Arend said. “She had a panicked voice. The thing I held onto was that Beth had ALMOST drowned.”
Arend started calling other mothers they knew from a prayer group called Moms in Touch, which prays for the health and well-being of their children.
The word quickly spread to the Carlsons’ church, Church of Living Water in Olympia, and by the next day, the word had spread to acquaintances and friends of friends in other states and countries. Nearby friends and family, including the church’s children’s pastor, Joe Patterson, supported the Carlsons in the hospital.
“We are so humbled and blessed that so many stayed up through the night to pray for her,” Leanne Carlson said.
Beth was put under sedation and on a ventilator overnight to allow her lungs to recover.
By the afternoon of July 4, three days after she was pulled unconscious out of the pool, Beth went home in time to see the fireworks show in Tumwater with a clean bill of health from doctors.
“She had been counting down the days to the Fourth of July,” Leanne Carlson said. “Brad and I sobbed through the fireworks.”