Ahwatukee mother shares story, urges safety after daughter nearly drowned last summer
Brandi Stoll has made it her mission to prevent drownings in the Valley.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Meet Alizah: she is 2 years old, likes to play with Barbies, puzzles, and of course loves Baby Shark. It was just last July when her family’s life was forever changed.
Alizah nearly drowned in her family’s backyard pool in Ahwatukee. “No distractions. No phone. Nothing. When you are there, you need to be fully there,” said Alizah’s mom Brandi Stoll. On that summer day in 2021, Stoll says they had friends over with their own four kids. Alizah was swimming in a puddle jumper, a flotation device. Brandi took it off after and later, they had popsicles. Alizah was sitting next to her mom inside their gated pool area.
Brandi turned to talk to another mom, then Alizah’s father started calling the child’s name from inside the home. Brandi says Alizah didn’t answer, which was unusual. When he called again, Brandi looked over and Alizah was face down in the pool. Brandi quickly pulled her out and started CPR. The experience has turned Brandi into a fierce advocate for drowning prevention.
“A lot of people say, ‘How hard it is to watch your kid?’ You know, ‘Where’s the fence?’ ‘Where’s the… everything.’ And it does happen,” she told Arizona’s Family. “I was there. We have the fence. And being able to put our real-life experience…she came out OK from it. That doesn’t always happen. You have to watch your kids.”
The family doesn’t know how long Alizah was in the water, but she was in the pediatric ICU for a few days. At one point Brandi says her youngest daughter was given a 50/50 chance of survival. She recently shared her story on an Ahwatukee Facebook page and wants to be vulnerable. Even if sharing her story helps another mom, father or grandparent, she says it’s well worth it for her. Since then, Alizah and her two younger siblings have started taking swimming lessons. Brandi got a new CPR certification, along with her husband and her own mother, and is helping other parents in the community learn.
Through the non-profit Armer Foundation For Kids, the family also started what’s called The Alizah Project. For her second birthday, Aliza’s family collected toiletries and supplies for families in the hospital, as Brandi saw a need during Alizah’s hospital stay. They plan on holding a similar drive for Alizah’s upcoming birthday. With Fourth of July just around the corner, the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona is urging layers of protection this holiday.
“We know during the Fourth of July weekend there’s going to be all of those parties around the pool. And everybody thinks that someone else is watching the kids. Don’t think that,” said Tracey Fejt, a member of the coalition. Drownings can happen to anyone in an instant and are silent.
It’s something Brandi learned, as she truly feels for the families who have lost loved ones. “We are very blessed and lucky because she’s here and she’s OK,” Brandi said. “She’s OK. No medical issues. None.”
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