Good Samaritans honored for saving family from drowning in Avondale

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- At Monday's Avondale City Council meeting, before public comment and other proposals, the fire chief called five people to the front. One police officer and four everday people, bonded by a scare they'll never forget.

On March 30, Theresa Brennan was out for a walk by the water in the Crystal Gardens neighborhood.

"I originally saw a gentleman or a child, I didn't know at the time, jump into the water and I'm like, this is not water you want to be swimming in," Brennan said.

Beth Pearson was in her car.

"I actually drove just a bit by before it registered what I'd just seen," she said.

It was a nightmare. A 3-year-old girl had fallen into the pond. Her grandmother went in after her and both were struggling, until the five strangers stopped to help.

"Several of us tried to get grandma out of the lake and turn her over on her back and then I turned my attention to the little girl," Pearson said.

"I've done CPR training in hospitals, I'm a teacher, and nothing prepares you for that," Brennan said.

The last time they saw the little girl, she looked lifeless, and crews were loading up her grandmother in an ambulance.

But Monday, Hemanssha Chopra, 3, and her grandmother are recovering and smiling and saying thank you to the people who made that possible. In the Chopra family's eyes, these people are heaven-sent.

"All of them who were there are like God's angels to us," said Hemanssha's mother, Archana Chopra.

Each of the good Samaritans received recognition from the city for their life-saving work. And while they're honored, they say seeing Hemanssha's sweet face is their true reward.

"Just seeing her and her grandmother continue to be a member of their family and society in general...I don't need a plaque, that's what I needed to see," Brennan said,