Jacksonville lawyer saves toddler from drowning
Jacksonville lawyer saves toddler from drowning December 15, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Jacksonville lawyer saves toddler from drowning Associate EditorA muddy dog, a spontaneous stop to window shop for new cars, and a quick-thinking lawyer converged to save a 2-year-old boy from drowning.As 36-year-old Patrick Michael Leahy, Jr., a Jacksonville lawyer specializing in maritime law, tells the story, he was pulling into his driveway, returning home from a soccer game with his two boys, ages 7 and 5.Just then, his neighbor ran over to say she was upset that her toddler son had been missing for about 10 minutes.The frantic mother said a neighborhood dog had come to play with the children in the cul-de-sac, and she had stepped into her home for just a moment to ask her husband who owned the dog.The next thing she knew, both her son and the dog were missing. And her husband was driving the car through the neighborhood on a desperate search.Leahy jogged behind the houses, looking in the wooded areas, calling the boy’s name. Without any luck, he returned to the front of his house, feeling worthless. So he jumped on his bike to continue the search.Just then, Leahy saw the dog, all wet and muddy.“It was perfect timing that I happened to go by and see the dog out of the corner of my eye. I was upset at what that may mean, so I jumped off my bike and ran to a pond, about 70 yards by 20 yards.”There in the middle of the still water of the pond, the boy floated.“What ran through my mind was ‘No!’ I sprinted into the water and swam out to get him and pulled him out to land. He was not breathing and his lips were blue.”Leahy summoned up his CPR training he had learned 15 years earlier when he was a deck officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Though he had only practiced on mannequins and had never used the training since, he remembered how to give the boy a couple of CPR-style breaths and tried to push the water out of his lungs. He ran to the back door of the closest house and beat on the door. He ran back and turned the boy over and pushed on his back, did a couple more breaths, and sprinted to the front door of the next house, carrying the boy, where the neighbors called 911.He could tell there was water in the boy’s chest and he flipped him over, thinking gravity would help, as he gave more pushes to his lungs.“Just about then, the boy’s father was driving back by the neighborhood and saw me out front with his son. I can only imagine what was going through his mind,” Leahy recalled.“Is he breathing?” the father asked.“Not yet,” Leahy answered, pushing on the boy’s back.Finally, the boy took a breath and struggled.“We kept him turned face down to get water out of his lungs. He took struggled breaths.”In what seemed like an eternity, the ambulance arrived.The mother collapsed to the ground in tears, as a crowd of neighbors gathered.“When the ambulance pulled away, the boy was crying very hard and I told the father that’s a good sign.”Leahy, who has a daughter the same age as the boy, was very upset by the ordeal, too.As he stood in his yard soaking wet and stunned, a responding firefighter said, “I’ll give you some good PR with your kids.” The firefighter walked over to Leahy’s children and said, “You should be proud of your dad today and give him extra hugs.” With that, he turned to Leahy and gave him a wink and a pat on the shoulder before climbing into the fire truck.The next day, the little boy was fully recovered, running around, riding his tricycle.Leahy hugged his own children a little tighter, too.“The boy’s family is really very thankful and very appreciative. The mom did nothing wrong; it’s just one of those things that happens in a split second,” said Leahy, adding how easily it could have happened to his own child.Split-second timing was crucial in saving a life.How unusual, Leahy said, for him to stop and look at new cars on the way home from soccer practice.Yet, if he hadn’t that day, he would have already been inside his house when his neighbor was frantically searching for her son.His last job was in a shipping town in Norway, where he met his wife.When he relayed his rescue story to one of his friends in Norway, his friend said: “See, Mike, now you know why you ended up in Jacksonville.”“Whether you call it fate or a higher power having a hand in the thing, I have really been reflecting on being in the right place at the right time,” Leahy said.