Esks assistant helps save drowning boy

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

It wasn't exactly a relaxing bye-week vacation for one member of the Edmonton Eskimos family.

Equipment assistant Hugh Halabi returned home a hero after saving a five-year-old boy from drowning at a Palm Springs resort on the weekend.

"There was no life to him," said Halabi, who was staying with his family at Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, Ca. "We arrived there on Tuesday and on Saturday morning, I decided to get up a little early and head to the pool and enjoy being by myself for a little bit.

"The next thing you know, after about 15 minutes of being at the pool, I went to get some water at the side and noticed there was a child in the bottom of the pool. Lifeless, just laying on the bottom."

After shouting to draw attention to the situation, Halabi saw a man dive in the water, which was five-feet deep, and pull the boy out.

"I'm pretty sure it was his father that went in there and grabbed his own child," Halabi said. "As he grabbed him out of the water he just held him. He was lifeless, his eyes were rolled back. That's when I went towards him."

Halabi took the child and put him on his side before a nurse who was staying at the resort showed up to administer CPR.

"I was to pump while she blew in the mouth," said Halabi. "We did that for about 30 seconds to a minute and the next thing you know, another nurse showed up (who) works in emergency operating rooms.

"So I moved over and let the nurses work together," said Halabi, who is first-aid certified from a previous job working in arenas with the City of Edmonton. "These two nurses were amazing. They were doing stuff that I've never seen done. Within four or five minutes, they got the kid breathing on his own."

The boy was taken to Eisenhower Medical Center and later transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center in critical condition.

"He was in the water an estimated seven minutes," Halabi said. "They weren't sure whether he was going to have brain damage or not.

"I heard that at 10 o'clock on Sunday night the child woke up, pulled the tubes out of his mouth. For a child to be under the water for that long, it was just amazing. You know what, he's the champ. We did what we had to do. We'd do it for anybody, we'd do it four our kids, we'd do it for anybody else's kids. It was just one of those things that happened."

But nothing quite like it has happened to Halabi before.

"Honestly, I wasn't scared," he said. "I just wanted to see the condition of this boy, if there was something that we could do for him."

After returning to work for the first time Wednesday, Halabi said he had yet to speak with the boy's family since.

"But there are phone numbers on my phone at home, we just got back (Tuesday)," Halabi said. "I didn't want to miss any more work with the Eskimos.

"I just think that this little kid fought, and we fought to get him going. I hope our team can do the same thing."

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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