Drowning victim thanks Fire Department, urges water safety as summer begins

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Jalen Brinkley and his little brother, Julian, poses with the fire department team that responded to Jalen's drowning last Saturday. (Photo by Leopold Knopp)

Now that school’s out and pool season is in full swing, summer is fully underway in Lewisville. With that comes a harsh, and almost tragic, reminder of the importance of water safety earlier this week.

Jalen Brinkley, 8, almost lost his life in a neighbor’s pool last weekend. His mother, Joelle, said Jalen is not a strong swimmer, and when he let go of the side of the pool in the deep end to reach for a flotation device, he went under the water.

The pool was full of 8 and 9 year old boys, a baseball team celebrating their victory in the city tournament. Jalen was lost in the chaos of the party until one of the parents noticed him at the bottom of the pool. Joelle estimates he was under for a minute and a half.

One parent jumped in and recovered him while another called 911. He was unconscious with bluing lips when they pulled him out of the pool, but the group of parents, many of whom are CPR certified, revived him after about a minute and a half.

Joelle Brinkley described it as the longest three minutes of her life, preparing herself for the possibility that her son was dead.

“His lips were blue, and he was gone. If you’ve ever seen a recently dead person, he was gone,” she said.

An ambulance arrived for Jalen in two minutes, by which time he had regained consciousness and coughed up the water he had taken in. Since he had taken water into his lungs, paramedics took him into the hospital to make sure he didn’t experience secondary drowning, but he was fine the next day.

Lewisville Fire Department’s Kevin Bailey, who responded to the call, said the parents at the pool had already gotten him mostly out of the woods. He said that when faced with this situation, parents should remember to check the “ABCs” — airway, breathing and circulation.

Assistant Chief Mark McNeal said though it’s early in the summer season, the area has already dealt with a rash of drownings. There have been two drownings in Grapevine and two drowning deaths in Lake Ray Roberts within the last month. McNeal emphasized remembering flotation devices, particularly on lakes, and lifeguard supervision.

Joelle Brinkley said they’re enrolling in swim lessons for Jalen, and will look to invest in lifeguards for future parties. She said she was still stuck in those three minutes when she didn’t know if her son would survive, but that she was thankful he did.

“Tell him the next month he’s sleeping in my bed, cause I need to hear you breathe overnight,” she said.

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