Heroes save boy's life

Gym lifeguard and an 11-year-old save Mikey from drowning
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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It was the worst call of her life. June 23, a social worker called Susan Hunsinger to say her 6-year-old son was pulled lifeless out of a pool at California Family Fitness in Rocklin. Hunsinger raced to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, not knowing if her son would live or die or even be crippled for life. Over the next few days she would finally learn what exactly happened. Young Mikey was leisurely playing in the indoor pool with his father and other friends. That’s when Kathy Burrage said her 11-year-old daughter Kaleigh noticed him struggling to get to the side of the pool — he went face down and became motionless. Without a second thought, Kaleigh got to him, flipped him over and pulled him to the side of the pool. “Kaleigh said, ‘Mom I thought he was dead,’” Burrage said. “She screamed for help and swam by adults who looked at them in panic. They were frozen.” She then cradled his body and lifted him up onto the pool deck. California Fitness swim instructor Shane Masnica heard the scream and ran to help. “He was completely blue and foaming at the mouth,” Masnica said. “He had no pulse or breathing. He was gone.” The 19-year-old turned to his CPR training even though he said he was afraid. “It was extremely scary,” Masnica said. “I knew his life was in my hands. You never think you’ll have to use CPR.” After two sets of breathing for Mikey, he said Mikey showed signs of life. “He started breathing again,” Masnica said. Mikey was rushed to the hospital where he met his mother. That’s when Hunsinger got another surprise. “I came into the emergency room and he was sitting up smiling,” Hunsinger said. After tests, Mikey was released from the hospital the next day. Nearly a month later, Shane, Kaleigh and Mikey were reunited at the Rocklin City Council meeting. Shane and Kaleigh were recognized with awards as the audience broke out in applause. After the meeting, Kaleigh pulled Mikey aside. She had so many questions. “Kaleigh said, ‘Mikey, I just want to know why you were swimming out there by yourself?’” Burrage said. “He said he was on the side of the pool and said ‘I hope I can make it across. All of a sudden I couldn’t do it.’” What he said next she’ll remember forever, Burrage said. “He said, ‘you are my angel and my new friend and I like you a lot,’” Burrage said. For Hunsinger, she can’t describe her gratitude in enough words. “What a huge thank you to those guys,” Hunsinger said. “They gave me back my son.” Burrage said Kaleigh was a near drowning victim herself, at nearly 3 years old she fell into the backyard pool.   “She doesn’t remember, but maybe talking about it over the years gave her an instinct in the pool,” Burrage said. Burrage said Kaleigh now wants to learn CPR. Hunsinger had Mikey back in the pool several days after the incident and hopes one day he can pay it forward and learn to be a lifeguard. Even then, she said parents were turning their backs on children in the pool. “There were parents not following the rules,” Hunsinger said. “I just wanted to grab them and tell them to get in the pool with their kids.” Masnica is studying to be a teacher and hopes this incident can teach parents a lesson. “You have to be watching your kids at all times,” Masnica said. ”I know there are lifeguards and other people to help you watch, but it only takes one gulp of water to drown.”