Plano boy recognized for saving drowning baby

[Plano Star-Courier] (Plano) Craning his neck to smile at the firefighters congratulating him, Jesus Lara was a good example of how big heroes can come in small packages.

Just 8 years old and a novice swimmer, Jesus reacted quickly last weekend to save a drowning infant from the bottom of a pool. On Thursday morning, the Plano Fire Department recognized his life-saving actions and explained how grateful they were for his quick reaction.

“He had the presence of mind not just to check to see what was at the bottom of the pool, but to take action,” firefighter and paramedic Chris Jefferson told the gathered crowd. “He turned out to be a remarkable young man.”

Jesus Lara was recognized by firefighters for his brave actions. Photo by Kelsey Kruzich, Plano Star Courier.

Jesus has only been swimming for two months. His father Henry began teaching him to swim in the pool at the Estancia Apartments where they live. Henry said after a long day of work Friday, Aug. 5, he kept his promise to take his son to the pool that night.

While Jesus was swimming, he noticed some bubbles coming from an object under the water.

“I thought it was someone who was seeing how long they could go without breathing,” he said.

When the bubbles suddenly stopped, Jesus reached for his goggles.

“I grabbed a quick breath, and I dove under,” he said.

Jesus resurfaced holding a 21-month-old boy and arms outstretched, he yelled for his father to help.

“It was what he said that spoke volumes to me,” Henry said, remembering the boy’s words, “I found him at the bottom of the pool.”

As a restaurant manager certified in CPR, Henry said instinct took over and he began to resuscitate the toddler. Someone nearby called 911, and Jefferson said by the time they arrived, the baby was being held by his mother.

Paramedics took over care of the baby and headed to the hospital. During the ride he became conscious and cried.

“A crying baby is a good sign,” Jefferson said. “A crying baby is a breathing baby.”

The infant had another doctor check up this week and is doing fine.

Jesus said he is considering becoming a lifeguard when he gets a little older, and his father is thankful he took the time to give those swim lessons.

“I’m very proud of him,” Henry said. “He reacted the way a lot of adults wouldn’t.”

The rescue crew presented Jesus with a certificate, plaque and Citizen Life-Saving Award metal. Aquatics superintendent Heather Miller also presented him with a life-saving ring signed by the city’s 250 lifeguards.

Jefferson reminded Plano residents to take a cue from the Lara family and brush up on safety knowledge.

“Watch your children in the pool and learn CPR,” he said. “Everyone should know how to swim, and make sure to dial 911 in case of emergencies.”

Story by Jessica Rush, Plano Star Courier,, Aug. 11, 2011 1:03 PM CDT