‘Hero’ 12-Year-Old With Down Syndrome Saves Sister From Drowning

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Tomarra Richardson tells Yahoo Parenting how her 12-year-old disabled daughter rescued her 3-year-old sister from drowning. She hopes the story will show that “even those with disabilities are capable of doing great things — including saving a life.” (Photo: ABC 12)

The Richardson family has had a pool for 16 years. In all that time, mom Tomarra Richardson swears they’ve never had a safety scare. “But in a split minute all that changed,” the Mundy Township, Mich., mother of three tells Yahoo Parenting, describing how her youngest child sneaked into the pool and began drowning on July 23.

Three-year-old Jac’Lynn “attempted to get in her swim tube in the pool and went through to the bottom,“ Tomarra told ABC 12. And the preschooler — who’d followed her 12-year-old sister Carin back out to the pool after their family had finished playing — couldn’t swim.

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“Without panic or fear,” Tomarra told the TV station, “[Carin] grabbed her goggles, got in the water, and pulled her sister out of the pool and into the house.” Tomarra immediately helped Jac’Lynn cough up some water as Carin’s elder sister, Krystal Bishop, called 911. Carin “was our hero — she saved her sister’s life.”

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Jac’Lynn Richardson in her family’s pool. (Photo: Tomarra Richardson) 

As parents, “we have always been very proud of Carin,” Tomarra tells Yahoo Parenting. “And words cannot express my gratitude to her for quickly moving to save her sister.”

The move was especially amazing, she told ABC 12, because Carin has Down syndrome, and “people with Down’s, I mean, they’re not always the fastest reactors. [But] Carin definitely reacted really fast. I mean, she wasn’t really scared at all.” That is, until Tomarra returned alone from the emergency room where an ambulance had taken Jac’Lynn.

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Carin Richardson (Photo: Tomarra Richardson)

“She was very worried when I came home from the hospital without Jac'Lynn and quickly came to me and said, ‘Mom, where is Jac?’” Tomarra tells Yahoo Parenting. “At that point I explained to her that her sister was doing really good, but the doctors wanted to keep an eye on her.” Reunited the next day, the sisters now couldn’t be happier.

“Jac’Lynn is doing very well,” Tomarra said to ABC 12. “She has already been back out to the pool. And Carin smiles proudly when being told what an amazing job she did. Through this story I hope that people realize that even those with disabilities are capable of doing great things — including saving a life. Carin tells us that she would do it again if ever needed.”

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The Richardson family, from left: Jac’Lynn, Tomarra, Michael, and Carin (Photo: Tomarra Richardson) 

But Tomarra isn’t going to let an accident like Jac’Lynn’s happen a second time. The mother has installed additional pool locks and put alarms on doors of the house so she’s alerted whenever they’re opened. “Children are very fast and very exploratory,” she warns. “Never underestimate their quickness.”

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