By Aimee Hancock
Miami Valley Today
TROY — A recent trip to the river quickly turned into a day to remember for several local residents.
John Jackson, of Troy, said he was leaving his fishing spot on the Great Miami River near the State Route 41 bridge on Monday, Aug. 24, when he heard what he describes as a “blood-curdling scream.”
“I see a a mother who is carrying her 6-year-old son out of the water,” Jackson said. “She was screaming for me to help, so I dropped my gear and ran over. His face was completely bluish-purple, and he had obviously been under water, so I grabbed him and started performing CPR.”
Within moments, Jackson said he was able to revive the boy, prior to the arrival of first responders.
Parker, age 6, was visiting the river that day with his mother, Heather Hensley, of Troy, his friend Ava, 7, and Ava’s mother. The children were playing in what appeared to be a shallow pool of water when tragedy struck.
“The kids have played down there a hundred and one times, but apparently Parker found a deep spot,” Hensley said. “The kids were both bobbing up and down and we didn’t think anything of it — I wasn’t even 6 feet from him — and Ava said, ‘I can’t reach.’ As soon as she said that, something just clicked and I dove in the water to get Parker.”
Between the time the kids were bobbing up and down and Ava said she could no longer reach the bottom, Parker went under water, Hensley said.
“I swear he wasn’t even under water 10 seconds, that’s how quick it was,” she said. “I went to reach for him and that’s when I hit the deep spot and realized it was over my head. I felt around under the water and as soon as I caught his arm, I lifted him straight up.”
Hensley said Parker was not breathing and his lips had already begun to turn blue.
“I felt like I was going 100 miles per minute, but everything was going so slow,” Hensley said. “Of course, I’m screaming and I see John running over. He grabbed Parker, ripped his goggles off, and started doing CPR.”
While Hensley was on the phone with emergency operators, Jackson revived Parker, who then began crying out for his mother. First responders arrived moments later and Parker was taken to a nearby hospital before being transported to Dayton Children’s Hospital for observation.
According to Hensley, Parker sustained no long-term damage from the ordeal. She said he was quickly back to his normal self.
“Parker said he thought it was crazy,” Hensley said. “I don’t think he realized what was happening, but he just knew something wasn’t right and he didn’t know what to do about it.”
Just days after the incident, Parker and his mother met up with Jackson again at a local coffee shop, where Hensley said she was able to thank him in person.
“I thank God John was there, and I think he deserves as much credit and recognition as he can get for being there at the right place and the right time, and for doing what he did to save a life,” she said. “I’m very blessed and very happy to have had someone who knew how to do CPR and who was there at that moment. The minute he heard me screaming, he dropped his stuff and ran over.”
Jackson, who served in the U.S. Marines from 1998 to 2006, said he was trained in lifesaving skills during that time, but that he has no recent CPR training or certification.
“I’m advocating for people and outdoorsmen to be prepared for situations you never think you’re going to come across,” he said.
Hensley, who has also never received CPR training, said she plans to become certified, as well as to enroll Parker in swimming lessons.
“I feel grateful; I just keep thinking I wasn’t far from him and everything happened so quick,” she said. “I want to stress the importance of CPR training with anyone who has kids, but I also don’t think you should stop going out and having fun and letting your kids go on adventures.”