4-year-old home after near drowning

Published 8:37 pm Friday, July 23, 2010

The 4-year-old girl who almost drowned Wednesday morning at the YMCA’s pool is back home and doing fine, her mother said Friday.

“We are so humble and grateful for everything they have done,” Jenny Harper said of the community’s outpouring for her daughter, little Coby-James and her ordeal.

“We’re just so happy that our baby is doing fine and happy, and we are so grateful to the community.”

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According to a Bainbridge Public Safety report, Coby-James was pulled from the pool around noon by lifeguards and she was unresponsive and not breathing.

Mrs. Harper said Coby-James’ older sister, 6-year-old Shelby Harper, first noticed Coby-James at the bottom of the pool. Her left arm was stuck in a pipe, which Mrs. Harper said was a 2-inch vacuum return filter that was apparently left uncovered from an earlier pool cleaning.

The police report said Cody-James’ body was discolored and her left arm was severally discolored to a dark blue, almost black.

When police and Emergency Medical Services arrived, Liv Warren of the YMCA was performing CPR on Coby-James, who had been attending tennis camp there. Justin Gravlee, a tennis instructor at the YMCA, was also there tending to her.

After being told of Coby-James was underwater, Gravlee “immediately jumped in and removed Harper from the pool. [He] yelled for [Warren] to give him assistance.”

“Warren stated she was giving swim lessons to a single individual in lane six, on the opposite side of the pool,” the police report stated. Gravlee stated he was inside the pool area with the kids from the tennis and swim camp.

Gravlee stated he was unaware of how long Harper had been submerged, the police stated.

“Liv stated she administered CPR for approximately three to four minutes prior to EMS’ arrival. Liv stated there were two lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident.”

Speaking of Gravlee and Warren, Mrs. Harper said “they saved her life.”

EMS transported Coby-Harper by ambulance to Memorial Hospital. She was later taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s pediatric intensive care.

Coby-James, the middle daughter of Jenny and Ridge Harper, doesn’t remember the incident, her mother said Friday. In fact, when she awoke in the hospital, Coby-James wondered why her family was there and was concerned for her mother, who is pregnant with twins.

Ken Bailey, the CEO of the YMCA, said Thursday morning he was reviewing the incident and would withhold any comment until after his review.

Mrs. Harper said they have been talking with Bailey, and that they aren’t going to pursue legal action. She said they have received assurances from Bailey that the problem will be fixed so it can’t happen again.

Carol Heard can be reached by e-mail at carol.heard@thepostsearchlight.com, or telephone at (229) 246-2827, Ext. 114.