Cook saves 3-year-old from drowning

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — Cartrelle “Chill” Carter went from grill master to hero in under a minute Tuesday evening.

Carter was on a break at the bar at Poboy’s Diner, where he works, when he said he saw three toddlers playing by the Day’s Inn swimming pool across the parking lot.

“I noticed a little baby was playing by a ladder,” he said. “So I started watching him more closely.”

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Then the children disappeared behind an 18-wheeler trailer in the parking lot, but he said he kept his eye on them, and suddenly, he saw one of the children go flying into the water.

“I thought, he is kinda small, I wonder if he can swim,” Carter said. “When I saw him struggling and reaching for something I figured he could not.”

Carter then said he did not think, but reacted, as he erupted from his stool and ran across the parking lot, leaping over the fence because the child had stopped struggling and there was no time to get to the gate.

“I reached over and pulled him out of the water,” he said. “Bent him over my knee and pumped water out of his mouth. Shortly after, he started breathing on his own.”

Roy King, who has a nursing degree and was at the restaurant, arrived shortly thereafter.

“The first thing I noticed was the expression on the boy’s face,” King said. “It was a look of, oh my God, I almost died.”

Then King said he noticed Carter with the boy across his knee, doing deep palpitations on him.

“It was a real surreal moment — Chill was holding the content-looking boy like he was his son,” he said. “It was a quiet, peaceful moment, until the guardians came out.”

Stacey Hawley, manager of Poboy’s Diner, arrived after Carter and said she sent the kids up to get the parents.

“The lack of concern for the child was appalling,” she said. “As was the lack of compassion they showed toward the person who had just saved their child’s life.”

When the guardians came down, Carter said the boy blamed a younger child for pushing him in the pool.

“He looked terrified when he heard them — afraid he was going to get a whooping,” Carter said. “I couldn’t hold him when they got down, he ran off.”

King said the adults refused treatment for the boy.

He said four minutes had elapsed before the guardians came down.

“The children were sitting by the pool just watching,” King said. “They didn’t know what to do.

“From a medical perspective I believe that the boy would have drowned if Chill hadn’t reacted,” King said.

Even though Carter did not get any thanks from the child’s guardians, Donna Hill, owner of Poboy’s Diner, said that she was proud of him.

“We think he is a hero, here,” she said. “Even if no one else thinks so.”

Police arrived just after 7 p.m. but did not file a report or make any arrests.

After rescuing the boy, Carter said he had to sit down and take a break, to shake it off, before he could return to work.