Lifeguard rescues toddler at Gardner Aquatic Center

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GARDNER, Kan. -- Two near drownings have happened in two days here in the metro. On Wednesday a three-year-old girl was found face down and unresponsive in a pool at the Gardner Aquatic Center.

Gardner police are crediting an alert and quick acting lifeguard for saving the toddler's life.

Hundreds of kids splashed through the water Wednesday evening at the aquatic center. Walking the edges, a rotation of 28 lifeguards, all patrolling the sights, sounds and movements of those in the water.

"They're always watching you, they never have their back turned," said eight-year-old Hadley Smith, who had been going down one of the center's slides when all the commotion started.

Just hours earlier in a kid pool play area that was up to three-feet deep, a lifeguard spotted that little girl face down. Police say she wasn't breathing.

"So they took her out of the pool and they did CPR, and it worked," said Smith.

Witnesses say it was a terrifying few moments until the child began coughing up water on scene.

"It was really scary because I really thought she almost died," another witness, eight-year old Scarlett Swinford, said.

"That pool had been evacuated for the time being until they could get everyone calmed down," said Shannon Fletcher, a mother of three young kids who had just gotten to the pool.

And with the scare, parents say comes a valuable reminder.

"As a parent you've got to keep your eyes on your kids, too," Fletcher said.

"Most of the time you think you are safe, but you should always keep an eye on your child, or have somebody watching your child. It doesn't matter what age they are, they always need to be parent approved," said Smith.

Police say the toddler will remain in the hospital overnight. She is now in stable condition. The family has requested no names be released.

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