GRAPEVINE A group of young lifeguards has been recognized by Grapevine City Council for a once-in-a-lifetime event. It happened July 5 at the Dove Waterpark.
'I was on the stand right there; it's called 'Tigger,'' Makenzie Brown recalled.
She had just come on duty and was surveying the crowded water around the baby area and stairs.
'I saw what looked like a little boy doing a flip in the water, like, arms back,' she said, raising her arms over her head.
But three-year-old Zac Gonzalez was not doing a flip. He was floating.
A woman spotted him at the same moment and handed the boy up to the lifeguard.
'His stomach was distended; he was completely blue,' Brown said. 'There was no breathing I saw. He was completely full of water.'
Makenzie Brown is 20. Other responding guards were as young as 16. But they acted with pit crew speed and teamwork.
Two held a mask to the boy's face and squeezed air into his lungs.
Brown pumped his chest. 'I would do compressions. He would throw up. We would roll him over and get that out,' she recalled. 'Do more compressions. He would throw up more. It was a cycle.'
Two other guards hovered with a defibrillator. Still others managed crowd control. There were 14 guards on duty for about 400 swimmers on that day.
'I was trying to prepare myself; this could be a bad outcome,' Brown said. 'I was like, 'Come on! You've got to come back!' It was just unbelievable.'
Grapevine city lifeguards train every Friday. They've done the drill over and over... but never with a life in the balance.
'We train over the recommended state requirements. I feel like it definitely paid off,' said aquatics director Jennifer Kashner-Fry.
Their work paid off in about 60 seconds. 'His eyes opened,' Brown remembered. 'He was looking up at us. We were like, 'Oh my God, stay with us! Stay with us!''
And another payoff came a couple of weeks later, when Zac's parents brought him to meet his life savers at the pool.
'I just immediately broke down in tears,' Brown said. 'The mom was holding him and gave me a big hug.'
Finally, emotion was allowed to overtake training... if only for a moment.