'Inspired bystanders,' UHP trooper revive 3 year-old after near drowning

CENTERVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A three year-old boy is alive, thanks to an off-duty state trooper, some fast-acting strangers, and witnesses say a miracle. 

Friday, the boy's mom and his rescuers spoke exclusively with ABC 4 Utah.  The group met at a playground at Pineae Gardens Condos, where Coleman Ross played, laughed, and hugged his mom.  

The last time the Coleman visited the Centerville complex, he looked a lot different.

"We just have this image in our minds of a corpse," recalled Leah Elam, a bystander who helped save Coleman's life. 

Coleman was spending a day swimming with his aunt and cousins while his mom was out of the country.  Jen Hanson says she stepped away to help her daughter in the bathroom for just a moment, but during that moment Coleman took off his life jacket and started to drown. 

"[His cousin] saw Coleman at the bottom of the pool, and I jumped in and got him out, and his little lifeless body -- I pulled him to the side," Hanson recalled, emotional.

"This overwhelming -- sorry," Elam said, choked up.  "This overwhelming calmness came over me, and I just heard 'take Coleman,'" she said. 

Elam says what happened next is nothing short of a miracle.  Even though it has been years since they have taken CPR classes, she says as she and her sister sprang into action, inspiration came.  

"It was, 'open the airway...'" Elam recalled.  "[My sister] gave him two breaths to start and [then] started compressions," she said. 

But then another miracle -- an off-duty Utah Highway Patrol trooper who was heading home happened to hear dispatch on his scanner, and less than a minute later Sgt. Chamberlin Neff found himself at the pool. 

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, with the right training," Neff said. 

"We just saw black boots..." Elam recalled.  "I just got down and looked at [Neff] and said, 'I'm not going anywhere,'" she said. 

Together, the group continued administering care until Coleman regained consciousness and caught his breath. 

Dash cam and body cam footage shows the rescuers talking everything through. 

"Coleman, hey buddy!" Neff says.  

"Cry.  Cry hard!" Elam says to Coleman in the videos. 

Paramedics called off Life Flight and transported Coleman to Primary Children's Hospital, where he made a full recovery -- and one that his mom says baffles doctors. 

"They estimate he was without oxygen from three minutes to as much as nine minutes... Scientifically, it's not really explainable," Coleman's mom Annie Ross said.  

Ross is now back in town and thanking everyone who saved her son. 

"She gave us these little necklaces..." Elam said "to remember Coleman and that we kept his heart going," she smiled, pointing to a heart-shaped charm.

"It's very -- what it's like is very rewarding, especially as a father," Neff said of the rescue (which now makes five life-saving rescues for Neff over the course of his career at UHP).

"I'm just so thankful that there are people who train to do that -- to respond at the drop of a hat and that they can be there to save a three year-old little boy," Ross said. 

Coleman has since had the chance to meet many of his rescuers.  His mom says she wants to thank Centerville Police and Fire departments, Bountiful responders, South Davis Metro Fire, Utah Highway Patrol, and everyone who stepped in.


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