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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – A local high school student is being called a hero after she rescued her baby sister from a swimming pool and revived her with CPR.

“We were on vacation and my family was by the pool,” said Ayala Bennett, of University Heights.

It’s been nearly three months since the 15-year-old saved her four-year-old sister Abigail from a backyard pool while vacationing in Florida.

“We heard screaming so we ran outside and they were like ‘Abigail fell in the pool!’ It was really scary,” said Ayala.

Her instincts kicked in. That’s because Ayala had just completed an American Red Cross CPR
training course two weeks prior.

“It was right away. I wasn’t thinking of the numbers or the counts,” said Ayala.

Ayala performed CPR for 10 minutes until medical help arrived. Her sister was flown to a nearby hospital. Twenty-four hours later, Abigail was discharged.

“She was like blue when I was doing the CPR. Her eyes were rolling back,” said Ayala.

“I was crying when I found out. I couldn’t stop,” said Shira Goldsmith of Goldsmith Swim School.

Goldsmith is a Red Cross training instructor and taught Ayala at Yavne High School in Beachwood.

“I teach how to rescue someone from the water, a lot of focus on CPR and first aid,” said Smith.

The CPR class is offered as an elective at Yavne High School. The school offers lifeguard and CPR training as part of the curriculum.

“I think this is the most valuable life lesson, more than any hours of lecturing I can give,” said Smith.

Monday, Ayala will receive the Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross. Goldsmith will also be honored.