Rescue reunion

Chloe Wainwright and her mother, Tynichia, came to Burnsville City Hall to thank those who rescued Chloe from drowning. (Photo by John Gessner)

Many honored for saving girl’s life in pool accident

Burnsville City Hall was buzzing Tuesday night as cops, firefighters, strangers united by circumstance and a fortunate little girl assembled for a reunion.

They celebrated the life of 7-year-old Chloe Wainwright, of Minneapolis, who was saved from drowning in a Burnsville swimming pool a year ago.

Chloe was at a pool party with her sibling’s mother last June 11 at The Woods Apartments when she fell in after reaching for a toy that kept floating away, said her mother, Tynichia.

She sank to the bottom of the deep end and was underwater for more than five minutes.

“Freakin’ out ain’t the word,” Tynichia said of her reaction when she saw her daughter at Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. “When I went to the hospital and seen her, I collapsed. It was the worst week of my life. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.”

A chain of rescue efforts started when 10-year-old Jo-Lan Evans noticed something at the bottom of the pool.

“I noticed a shadow in the deep end,” he said. “I went down to see what it was. Then I came back up.”

But he wasn’t sure it was a person until a girl at the pool suggested it, Jo-Lan said.

“So I called my mom,” he said. His mother, Alanna, was nearby, and called down to the girl, who was near the spot where Chloe was submerged.

The girl, 15-year-old Jaqueline Montenegro, didn’t hesitate. She dove down and grabbed Chloe’s hands, pulling her from nine feet of water.

“I just do it, actually,” Jaqueline said. “It’s what I chose to do.”

Apartment resident Ryan Quinn and his friend, Casey Gliem, of Apple Valley, were hanging out at the pool that evening when they witnessed the incident at around 7:45 p.m.

Gliem shouted to his friend and they cleared a space around Chloe to begin CPR. Quinn said he’s trained in CPR, and Gliem said he has some training.

“He was doing chest compressions. I was giving breaths,” Gliem said. “We were tipping her on her side, trying to get her to spit up some of the water or whatever was inside of her windpipe. It took us three, four rounds of CPR. Finally, we tipped her over and we kind of started tapping her on her back, and that’s when she started kind of spitting up some water and food that had clogged up her windpipe along with the water.”

Police officer Lauren Smith, who was near the Portland Avenue complex when the call came in, arrived quickly and took over chest compressions. Minutes later, officer Jake Gribble took over as Quinn continued to administer breaths until paramedics arrived. Rescue breathing was continued by police Sgt. Steve Stoler.

First responders were not optimistic.

Chloe was hospitalized for about a week, sedated to keep her brain from swelling and her body kept cool, her mother said.

“As she was in the hospital, every day she got better and better and better,” Tynichia said.

Now fully recovered, Chloe just finished the first grade. She doesn’t remember the incident, said Tynichia, who “never went into the graphic details.”

“We’re grateful,” she said. “She’s here. She’s been kicking and fighting since she opened her eyes back up.”

It’s an apt time to remind people about pool safety, police Capt. Don Stenger said.

“It’s really important you’re watching your kids all the time, whether it’s your kids or others’,” he said. “You can’t take your eyes off them for a minute. Accidents happen. Thankfully in this case we got her back, but it could have ended much more tragically.”

The City Council presented Awards of Valor to Jo-Lan Evans, Jaqueline Montenegro, Ryan Quinn and Casey Gliem.

Lifesaving Awards went to officers Lauren Smith and Jake Gribble, Sgt. Steve Soler, former fire Capt. Rick Steinhaus, former firefighter-paramedic Andrew Hamlin, and firefighter-paramedics Andrain Roach and Jayson Knutson.