Family thanks Marion, Ill. man and first responders after saving 15-year-old girl from nearly drowning in pool

Bystander saves teen's life

MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - A typical Saturday in the summer started off fun with kids and family, and quickly took a turn after a 15-year-old girl from Houston was fighting for her life in a Marion pool.

On Wednesday, her family thanked the local man and team of first responders who saved her life.

That man is Pete Gordon, a basketball coach and P.E. teacher at West Frankfort school. He and his family live on Market Street in Marion, right across the street from that pool.

Gordon said he was sitting at home keeping cool from the warm temperatures, until his son Banks screamed for help across the street.

“You know they were extremely loud and I could hear them from inside the house,” Gordon said. “So I got up and opened the door and my son Banks yelled that his friend’s cousin was drowning.”

Since Gordon could hear a commotion, he quickly jumped into action.

The family said the teen, who goes by the name Kayle-Kayle, was teaching another child how to swim, when he went to the deep end. Panic set in and she was not able to help him get to the top. However, several kids jumped in to get him to safety, but noticed she was still on the bottom.

According to the family, Kayle-Kayle can swim. It was her older sister who jumped in and got her to the top.

“Her step mom was doing compressions at the time, but whenever I got there Kayle was not breathing and so I kind of took over with some compressions and was fortunate enough to get some of that water out of her lungs,” Gordon said. “She started breathing and not very long after the police showed up and soon the EMTs were there and they kind of took over.”

Gordon said he wants to stress pool safety during these last summer weeks. In addition, he also stressed how every second counts.

”As a teacher and coach, you certainly get trained for CPR, but to do it on a human, nope, this was my first time. And so I’m just glad I didn’t overthink it and just relied on the training,” Gordon said.

The owner of the pool, Terance Henry, is also the uncle of Kayle-Kayle. He said she was flown by helicopter to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and is currently recovering.

“They have taken her off the respirator, just this morning I learned that she has been take off of oxygen, Henry said. ”Last night, she was Facetiming her friends, she was Facetiming her brother and sister, she’s texting.”

Kayle-Kayle’s dad took this picture of her, as a thank you to everyone who played a part in saving her life.

Her family said Kayle-Kayle is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
Her family said Kayle-Kayle is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery. (Source: Family of Kayle-Kayle)

In the midst of unrest across our nation, Henry was very happy with how everything was handled.

“[The first responders] were there and they were professional...it just shows that they saw a life and not a race,” he said.

While many deemed Gordon the hero, he said it took a village.

“It’s been nice to be recognized, but to me, I was just one part of this,” Gordon said. “We have to recognize our police officers and our first responders and to me those are the people that do this everyday. They’re the heroes that do this every day.”

Right now, the family said she is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

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