One Indiana mother is sharing her emotional story of watching her son drown and nearly die in hopes of creating a teachable moment for parents to be "hyper vigilant" to avoid the same scary scenario.
Five-year-old Adam Leeson is lucky to be alive after drowning in a pool surrounded by adults. According to water safety experts, drowning doesn't look like what people see in movies with yelling and splashing; more often it is silent, making it extremely difficult to spot.
"It was the absolute worst moment of my entire life," Maribeth Leeson told ABC News affiliate WRTV of the moment she saw her son had drowned. "I was just screaming -- uncontrollable screaming."
Leeson added that she thought Adam was safe in the shallow end of the pool because there were adults nearby. She said she looked away to help her 3-year-old daughter put on her swimsuit, and that's when the young boy slipped into the deep end.
"I never thought one of my kids would drown in a pool full of people," the mother said.
She detailed the full story in a post on Facebook and said, "I can 100% understand why the adults who were RIGHT THERE didn't recognize that he was drowning because when I saw him, I too thought he was just a kid who was playing."
Leeson explained that the other pool-goers were unaware of the emergency as it unfolded because her son did not appear to be in distress.
"He didn't look like he was drowning. No one noticed it because he just looked like he went underwater and he was holding his breath," she recalled. "Had anyone seen him splashing his arms around, of course they would have been saying, 'Hey, help him.'"
Fortunately, her family friend Kristin Moon knew CPR and sprang into action to save his life.
"I don't know how many rounds of CPR I did," Moon said. "I know at one point, God was telling me, 'He's going to come back, just keep keep doing it.'"
"Kristin kept working CPR and then his eyes fluttered and when his eyes fluttered, she said she could feel his pulse," Leeson said.
The young boy was rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Now that her son is home safe and sound, Leeson said she's decided to turn her trauma into a teachable moment for others.
"Don't let kids get in the pool unless you're getting in yourself," she advised. "Just because there are other people there doesn't mean it can't happen, so be hyper vigilant."
Leeson said that her son's prognosis is perfect and there was no residual harm from the drowning. He even asked to go swimming in the pool again, but said "'this time, I'll wait for Mommy,' before getting in the pool."
"This was 100% preventable," she said in her Facebook post. "The fault was MINE."
She continued, "Please take water safety seriously. I never thought this would be me. It was me, but thanks to God and my dear friend Kristin, my son is still safely here. Learn from my mistakes so it's not you."
Many parents believe that if adults are near the pool then somebody must be watching, but that can give a false sense of security. Below are some additional tips to best look out for children to keep them safe in the pool.
Tips to keep kids safe in the pool
Water safety experts suggest that parents enlist what's called a "water watcher," someone who stands next to the pool, constantly scanning the water for any signs of distress. That person should rotate every 15 minutes to avoid losing focus. That person should ideally wear a lanyard or something to identify that they are the "water watcher" so that others know who has eyes on the water.
Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88%.
Don't rely solely on flotation devices to keep kids safe; while those devices can help, if a child doesn't know how to swim, an adult should be in the pool with them constantly and never let them more than an arms length away.
It is also an important reminder to know or learn CPR.