Something blue beneath the water ... so boy dove

By Katherine Wartell

There was something at the bottom of the pool. His vision partly obscured by the salt content of the water, he wasn’t quite sure what. But he knew he could see something with blue and green on it.

He dove down to get a closer look. Unconscious at the bottom of the pool was a two-year-old girl wearing a blue and green swimsuit.

He picked her up and carried her to the top. Her mother was frantic for her by then. It had all happened so fast.

It happened about three weeks ago on New Year’s Eve. The boy was Dawson Adams, a fifth-grader at Amanda Arnold Elementary School. He was at the Clarion Hotel in Manhattan, celebrating his Dec. 30 birthday with friends and family. He had just turned 11.

They were swimming in the hotel’s pool and it was crowded with people. He was there with his parents Diana and Brett, his 3-year-old sister, Daisy, his aunt and various other friends and family.

While Daisy swam with a life-vest in the smaller whirlpool, Dawson swam with friends in the main salt water pool. They were splashing around, but at one point he took a break, and that’s when he said he noticed the form of the girl at the bottom.

After he brought her up, Diana Adams said the crowded pool emptied. “You wouldn’t believe how quickly … everybody just scattered because someone was screaming, ‘she’s dead,’” she said.

The little girl, whose mother requested that their identities be kept private, was not dead, only unconscious. But, Diana said, “she was totally, totally blue,” while Dawson said she was, “like a noodle.”

He said the other pool-goers shepherded their children into their hotel rooms, trying to shield them from the sight.

Though family gathered around her, Diana said her sister grabbed the toddler and performed CPR on her. Eventually the girl came to, vomiting up mouthfuls of water.

“The whole thing probably took a total of five minutes,” Diana said, though, she added that it felt like an hour. She said an ambulance and police quickly arrived on the scene and she guessed that the girl couldn’t have been under the water more than a couple minutes before Dawson found her.

“It was kind of a New Year’s Eve miracle that he happened to see her,” Diana said. 

The girl was taken by Riley County EMS and later life-flighted to Kansas City to make sure her brain and lungs were okay.

After an examination, the doctors said she was fine. “She’s doing great,” her mother said.

The girl had slipped into the pool while her family packed up their belongings, not realizing she had fallen in.

After the incident, Dawson said his whole body shook for at least an hour and he said he couldn’t remember the moment when he dived down for the little girl, only that he knew he pulled her to the top.

He was quick to downplay his role, telling his fifth-grade class about the experience but focusing mostly on what his aunt did for the girl, Diana said.

She said the girl’s mother worked to get some recognition for him from the city and that they still keep in contact. She said they are planning for Dawson and the girl to properly meet.

The girl’s mother said she is grateful to Dawson. “There are no words,” she said, adding that his actions were very mature for his age.

Diana said she hugged the mother afterward and told her, “‘She’s fine. Your little girl is going to be fine.’”

She said the experience made her realize how important knowing CPR is. “You’re helpless if you don’t know it. All you can do is watch pretty much,” Dawson added. Which is what was happening, Diana said, until her sister grabbed the girl to resuscitate her.

“The stars, planets and moons all aligned,” Diana said. “It wasn’t [the little girl’s] time to go,” she said.

“It’s nobody’s time to go,” Dawson said.

Mercy Regional Health Center’s next class on first aid for children is on Feb. 9 and costs $15. They can be contacted at 785-587-5413. UFM offers multiple courses on CPR beginning at various times during the year and can be contacted at 785-539-8763. Their courses are typically $45. Lafene Health Center also offers CPR courses for K-State students, faculty and staff. Information can be found at

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