Lifeguards were lauded Tuesday for saving a 4-year-old who nearly drowned in a pool. One lifeguard spotted the victim and got him out of the water; another did chest compressions that revived him. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd reports.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

Angela Wang’s mind went blank when she saw her 4-year-old son lying on the side of the swimming pool surrounded by lifeguards.

"I was really shocked, and I couldn’t think of anything. But I still remember calling his name. Vincent, Vincent, … can you hear me?" the mother recalled of the day when her son, Vincent Zhang, nearly drowned in the pool at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park in Woodbury.

The family, who lives in Oakland Gardens, Queens, returned Tuesday to thank the lifeguards who saved Vincent’s life Aug. 13, bringing bouquets of flowers and cards with handwritten messages and rainbows drawn by the boy.

Vincent, who wore a bright yellow shirt with sketched airplanes flying through the clouds, said he remembered the lifeguards helping him.

"I [sank] into deep water," he said. "I tried to hold my breath, but I [couldn’t] hold my breath. … I tried to get up, but I kept [sinking]."

That Friday was supposed to be a fun playdate for Vincent, who didn’t know how to swim, and the sons of Ella Liu, of Syosset, a friend of Wang. Wang said she asked another mom at the pool to watch her son when she went to the bathroom but returned to find him on the ground as the lifeguards tried to save him.

One of them was Gianna Magrino, 18, who dove into the water to rescue the child.

"He was unconscious. His face was turning like gray, even blue," Magrino said. "I was definitely anxious, definitely scared. But in my mind, I was just like: ‘Keep calm. Stay focused. There's time to panic later.’"

Another lifeguard Ryan Harrison, 23, found Vincent had no pulse and was not breathing. He started performing CPR, and Timothy Nealon, 22, began setting up AED, a medical device to treat cardiac arrest.

After more than 60 chest compressions, Vincent started spitting up water and breathing again. The resuscitation took about one minute, the lifeguards said, though "it felt like forever."

"It was definitely very scary," Nealon said. "But in those scenarios, you just get into this zone where you have to get this done. And we got it done."

Harrison said the lifeguards at the pool have had about three major saves, meaning when CPR is needed, in the past five years.

Last summer, a man was pulled out of the water and revived after having a heart attack during a swim. In 2017, two lifeguards were credited for saving a toddler after he was found face down and unconscious in the same Oyster Bay municipal pool.

In a news conference Tuesday, town Supervisor Joe Saladino praised the lifeguards for their quick action.

"Our residents can always feel very safe because we're protecting them … whether it's at the pool, at the beach, in a park or anywhere they are," said Saladino, who then turned to address the lifeguards that stood behind him. "Vincent is living proof that you all are lifesavers."

Near-drownings at Syosset-Woodbury Community Pool

2021: Lifeguards saved 4-year-old Vincent Zhang.

2020: A man was rescued after he had a heart attack during a swim.

2017: Two lifeguards saved a toddler after he was found face down and unconscious.

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME