Valley mother whose daughter almost died in near drowning shares her story

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Arizona has the second highest drowning rate in the nation and it is the leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4 in Phoenix. A Valley mother, whose daughter almost died in a near drowning accident, is sharing her story to bring more awareness.

“I was at work and my mom was watching the three kids,” Therese Richmond says. “My mom went to switch a load laundry. Megan threw a little fit and wanted to stay out with her brothers. Grandma left her and literally the length of time to switch a load of clothes and put in a new one and went back out and she didn't see Megan,” Richmond continues. “She saw the gate just so slightly open and she went running for the pool and found Megan and pulled her out.”

It has been more than 11 years since Richmond got the call that her 2-year-old daughter Megan had fallen into the family pool in Gilbert.

“Even when you think you're safe, even when you've done all the right things and you've got the pool fenced off and you've got the self closing gate that automatically latches and all this other stuff, you've just got to be aware that sometimes something goes wrong,” Richmond says. “They said she'll never be aware of her surroundings. She'll never move any of her body parts. She will just deteriorate and die.”

Megan did beat the odds and survived. Now a 13 year old with a personality of her own, she loves listening to stories, watching television and going to school is another big highlight.
“She can't talk, but she does make sounds and she has sounds that indicate she's happy and there's sounds that indicates she's not so happy,” Richmond said.

 While things haven't always been easy, Richmond has had the support of her loved ones. She is sharing her story to help bring awareness to other families.

“It's not something you think will ever happen to you and when it does you then see how many times it does happen,” Richmond explains.

A new poll by St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center found that 1in 8 Valley residents know someone who has drowned.

“We clearly see a peak of drowning in the summertime,” Neurologist Dr. Javier Cardenas says.  “Some of that are recreational areas, lakes, and rivers. We also see a peak in the summertime when parents are there at the pool-side party.”

Cardenas, who is with the Barrow Neurological Institute, says there is several ways to get the number of drownings down to zero. This includes having a pool fence, making sure all of the children in the pool can swim, knowing CPR is beneficial and that someone is always watching.

“Assign someone at a party to supervise the children,” Cardenas says. “Make sure it's not burdensome and they know they are the one watching the children.”

Richmond says that message cannot be stressed enough and hopes that her story serves as a reminder to others. “She's a miracle. I have no doubt in my mind, she's a miracle.”

Barrow Neurological Institute offers a water safety program called Oliver Otter Water Safety Program.