After nearly drowning, a two-year-girl with developmental disabilities now has the power of speech. A family in West Seattle, Washington, cannot believe the miraculous recovery their nonverbal daughter experienced following a near drowning. On April 9, Natalie Holiday and her family were in the process of moving to a house down the street. Holiday said she sensed something was wrong after she went upstairs for a little while. “It happened in an instant,” she said.
According to Detective Patrick Michaud, the family had last seen 2-year-old Catalina Ackers in the backyard with other family members, as noted by the SPD Blotter. The family called 911 to report that the toddler was missing. Soon after, 12-year-old Ethan found his little sister in the neighborhood retention pond. “He saw her pink shirt and she was floating face down in the water,” Holiday said. Neighbor Stephen Schwab jumped into action to help after hearing a bloodcurdling scream. “I heard a kid scream, not the kind of scream when kids are playing but a hearty scream,” Schwab recalled.
Schwab told Ethan to call 911 and he started performing CPR on Catalina. He originally could not find a pulse, and attempted chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the limp 2-year-old. Eventually, Officer Tyler Keating arrived and performed CPR, after which Catalina had a pulse, demonstrated shallow breathing, and started to cry.
“Just to see her laying there not moving was, there are no words to see your child like that,” Holiday said. “Not at all, not at all.”
Catalina was sent to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Not only did she recover from sedation a day sooner than expected, she suddenly was able to talk. Prior to the incident, Catalina could only say a few numbers and the alphabet.
“She is speaking clear language, words. So something clicked, her face is the same, but as her mother she is a different child,” Holiday said. Holiday explained that Catalina has developmental disabilities and used to gesture to communicate with others.
“The first thing she said when she came out of sedation was ‘mommy’ the very first time,” Holiday said. Catalina is still speaking after the incident, and the family is overjoyed.
“Nothing has worked, nothing has worked,” she said. “It’s just an amazing feeling to have your daughter say mommy.”
The family plan on thanking the neighbor and police officer who saved Catalina’s life.
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