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Safe for the summer: Local mom recalls saving son from near drowning

Lauren Gaines says her instincts kicked in when she found her son face down in a hot tub. Now she wants other parents and children to be prepared.
Posted: 7:54 AM, Jun 14, 2024
Updated: 2024-06-14 13:36:26-04
Garren Gaines

TUCSON, Ariz. — As we spend more by the pool for the summer, a mom in Tucson is sharing her story, so you don't have to go through same terror she did, when her son nearly drowned.

Incredibly, she managed to save him. But she soon found out, that's very rarely the case.

Four summers ago, the hot day in July should have been nothing but a party.

Lauren Gaines and her kids were at a friend's house, where they had been hanging by the pool the whole day. Her son, Garren was just 2 years old, so he spent the afternoon climbing in and out of the shallow entrance to the pool.

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"I'm always around water, this will never happen to me," Lauren Gaines shares with KGUN 9's Claire Graham. "And it happened."

"He would jump in and out, and he was like, 'look mom!'" Gaines remembered. "He was in there, no floaties, no nothing, and we were there too."

As the day shifted, the kids went inside, leaving the adults in the pool. When one got out to start the grill, they realized Garren wasn't with the other kids. Still in the water, Lauren jumped up to look in the hot tub, just feet away.

That's where she found Garren, face down in the water.

"So I instantly ran over there and pulled them out," she said. "Before that, I thought to myself, 'my child is gone, my marriage is over,' and so I pulled him out. I did CPR and a couple of chest compressions."

Gaines was lucky. One of her friends at the party was a paramedic, so he took over doing CPR until Garren coughed up the water and started breathing again. Another friend called 911.

"By the time the paramedics and the ambulance got there, he was awake," Gaines said. "He was a little bit lethargic, didn't know where he was.>

But the second shocking moment of the day came as they got to the hospital.

"When we were getting out of the ambulance," Gaines said, "I asked the firefighter, 'how many stories do you hear about this?' He said 'none,' and my heart just sank. Immediately after, he said 'no one survives.'"

Looking back, Gaines says she quickly realized how accidents like these happen so easily.

"It is so silent. It is so instant," she said. "We were right there, and there were five other adults. It wasn't like we weren't paying attention. The kids were in the house, and it happened quietly."

Her message now, is to be prepared.

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Lauren Gaines says education is key: After a near-drowning scare when he was only 2 years old, she enrolled her son Garren in an Infant Swim Resource class.

"Think about being CPR certified, even though you don't use it all the time," she said. "Do it, get trained, so you have it in your back pocket. You never know when you have to use it. And then I actually put him in ISR classes. I put him in ISR classes immediately after."

ISR stands for Infant Swim Resource. It's a program that teaches your child how to survive if they end up in the pool or in water.

Gaines says Garren cried at first taking the class, but that's pretty common. The classes can be scary. But she says she'd put him through it again to make sure he'll always survive.

There are several programs that offer ISR classes around Tucson, for kids 6 months to 6 years old.

Now, Garren is a healthy 6-year-old, who loves the pool, because his mom learned the hard way, this can really happen to anyone.

Garren Gaines
Garren Gaines loves to swim now. But 4 years ago his mom had to save him from a near drowning.

"That was my thought, this will never happen to me," she said. "I'm always around water, this will never happen to me. And it happened. And I am extremely blessed that my story ended the way it ended."

Claire Graham is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. She grew up in Tucson and graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in musical theatre. Claire spent a decade in Washington state, where she worked in journalism, met her husband and welcomed their baby boy, before moving back home. Share your story ideas and important issues with Claire by emailing claire.graham@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.