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    Dad: 'There is a gift from prayer'

    20-month-old Liam Medley, whose father found him floating face-down in a swimming pool, is expected to make a full recovery.

    By LEON M. TUCKER

    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 29, 2000


    SAFETY HARBOR -- Patrick Medley realizes many stories don't end this way.

    On Saturday, he found his son Liam floating face-down in the family swimming pool at 3020 Tall Pine Drive. The 20-month-old was hospitalized and connected to a ventilator in critical condition for four days.

    But by Wednesday, Medley and his wife Debbie were able to bring Liam home. On Thursday, the family pediatrician said the little boy should make a full recovery.

    "There is a gift from prayer," said Patrick Medley, "And we got a gift."

    Medley said he was cleaning a fish tank next to the pool just after noon Saturday while Liam played with colored rocks from the tank. His 6-year-old son Dominic then came to the sliding glass door and told him someone was knocking at the front door.

    "I told him to get his mother, but he said she wasn't around," Medley said.

    Medley said when he went into house, Liam continued to play on the deck.

    "When I met my wife between the kitchen and the living room, she immediately asked where (Liam) was," he said. "I looked around, didn't see him and went looking for him."

    Medley said he looked out onto the pool area and did not see Liam. He then went into the play area of the house, which also has an entrance onto the pool, and did not find the toddler there.

    "I looked through the French door to the pool and I could see him floating face-down," he said. "I immediately opened the door, dove in and pulled him out."

    The incident, Medley said, lasted no more than 15 seconds.

    The Medleys don't remember who called 911, but the couple said they are grateful for the quick response that allowed them to get help for their son.

    With rescuers en route, the couple said the 911 operator coached Debbie Medley through the CPR procedure before rescuers arrived.

    Though they say they were able to restore the child's breathing, Liam remained unconscious. He was flown by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and was moved next door to All Children's Hospital later that day where he remained on a ventilator until Wednesday.

    "We're just thankful for everybody that helped us out," said Debbie Medley, Liam's mother. "The paramedics were there quickly, the doctors were honest and optimistic -- we just felt hopeful things were going to be okay and we're thankful they are. We're just blessed, that's all."

    Starting Sunday, a new state law will require new residential pools to have one of four safety features installed: a 4-foot-high barrier surrounding the pool, an approved pool cover, an alarm on all entrances to the pool area or self-closing and self-locking devices on all entrances to the pool area.

    Medley, who already has a house alarm and a pool screen with a door, says he is considering putting a safety fence around his pool. But is not convinced that will calm his fears.

    "I'm not sure that's the answer," he said. "Even if I had a gate there, I don't think I could leave a child out there. My son is my life and I don't know what can make him safe around this pool. My wife and I are just grateful we have our son back."

    The Medleys said Liam's pediatrician expects him to make a full recovery, but between the side effects from the near drowning and the medication he took while in the hospital, he occasionally will have some trouble walking.

    But Thursday afternoon, Liam was playing with the family cat, Big'en, and shuffling around the dining room table with his father hustling close after him.

    "I'd call that a full recovery," said Medley, scooping up Liam in his arms.

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