GREEN, Ohio – Two local sheriff's deputies are being called heroes for saving a boy's life – halfway across the country.
Summit County Sheriff's Deputies Mark McElroy and Bill McKinney were in Phoenix to extradite a prisoner back to Ohio last weekend.
While eating dinner at the hotel restaurant, something caught their eyes through a nearby window.
“We noticed a little boy running around the pool area and I didn’t see him anymore,” said McKinney, who’s been in the department for 19 years. “We sat there for a little longer. I noticed something in the pool, and at that time I’d seen someone jump in the pool and I yelled at my partner Mark that something was going on there.”
Just as the two rushed to the pool, McElroy said a man was pulling his child out of the water. The boy was found at the bottom of the pool.
“He had the worst color. Purple lips. He was just gray and white and lifeless, so I grabbed the boy. Just instinct kicked in,” said McElroy, who’s been in the department for 21 years. “I put him up on the hard deck, started checking for his vital signs and I couldn’t find any pulse.”
The three-year-old child, TJ, was also bleeding from a head injury. The two immediately began performing CPR on the child.
“Every time I was blowing in his face, I kept seeing my daughter, my six-year-old’s face,” McKinney said. “When I kept seeing her face, I couldn’t give up, I wasn’t going to give up on this kid.”
It took two minutes before TJ began to respond. It was the boy’s small cries and coughs that gave them both a sigh of relief.
“We’re not heroes,” McKinney said. “(TJ) was the one that was fighting. He didn’t give up on us. As scared as we were, as hard as we were, he never gave up on us.”
For the past few days, the deputies said many people have commended them for their efforts. The two are grateful for the life-saving skills and being in the right place at the right time.
“I was physically and emotionally drained,” McKinney said. “Forty or fifty years down the road, I’m always going to remember this day."
“Quite an experience, traumatizing,” McElroy added. “We’ve seen everything you can imagine in law enforcement, and when it comes to kids dying, it’s the roughest.”
McElroy and McKinney said they’d like to meet up with the boy and his family again.