15-year-old lifeguard saves toddler during first day on the job

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – It started out as a day of fun in the sun at the Charles A. Foster pool in Lakewood, Ohio last Thursday – but things quickly turned dangerous.

"I heard like a 'Help, ah,' kind of thing," lifeguard Jack Viglianco, 15, told WJW. "And, I looked over, and I saw a guy who's probably like 3 feet 6 inches in the 4-foot water and gasping for air."

The victim was a 4-year-old boy at the pool for a summer camp field trip.

Viglianco said the young boy was bobbing up and down, screaming for help.

Not only was it Viglianco's first day on the job, it was only 20 minutes into his shift, when he had to put the lifesaving skills he had just learned to the test.

"Active drowners can still breathe, and they're still above water, but they are still in the act of drowning,” Viglianco said.

"Jack activated our emergency response plan. He got down off the chair, and jumped in and helped the kid to safety," said Lakewood aquatics manager Matt Demaline. "He had just completed... a five-hour orientation the day before for all of our new and returning staff, and we were ready to go, day one."

Lakewood’s aquatics department said the scary scene proved to be the perfect reminder to parents and caregivers about safety at the pool, knowing things can drastically take a turn for the worse in the blink of an eye.

"Never let them out of your sight," said grandmother Eileen McCray. "That's what I do with her, no matter where we're at or where we go, she can't go where I can't see her.”

As for Viglianco, he said being a lifeguard is a passion and dream come true. His first day on the job, he said, is one he’ll never forget.

"I was realizing that I just saved a kid's life," he said. "And, that is something not many other people can say, nothing my friends have ever said."

Between Lakewood’s two public pools, WJW reports there were 42 lifesaving efforts in just the last two summers. All victims were saved, thanks to the well-trained lifeguards on duty.