Alert action leads to drowning rescue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005



RESERVE – Michael Hill, Jr. seemed uncomfortable with the publicity this past week, when news got out that he had saved the life of a 3-year-old girl who had slipped into a pond near his house.

“I felt like I did something good, but it’s nothing I really want to brag about,” was how the 15-year-old responded about the incident.

But his mother, Jan Cogswell, saw it differently.

“He didn’t want any publicity about the whole thing, and that’s what really makes him a hero,” she said.

The incident happened recently at his home in Reserve, on a Saturday afternoon when his neighbors were having a crawfish boil next door.

In front of the Cogswell residence is a trampoline that is obviously attractive to area kids, with a large pond about a 100 yards from the front porch of their house.

“The neighbors were having a crawfish boil, and all the kids had come to my house to play on the trampoline,” he recalled. “But then all the kids left except this one little girl.”

Hill was just walking back to his house when he noticed the little girl, who has Down Syndrome, walking towards the pond in his backyard.

“I saw her stop, then I figured she was about to turn around and come back, so I turned around and started to go in the house. But then I heard a splash and I just knew she had fallen in the water,” he said.

The pond in the yard of the Cogswell’s is about 40 by 100 feet. It is 25 feet deep since it was dug to provide dirt for the yard. But even more scary is the fact that there are frequently alligators in the pond, since the pond has a large canal behind it.

“We have gators in the pond all the time,” Cogswell said. “One time my son caught an 8-footer, and we’ve seen them up to 10 feet in our pond all the time.”

But fortunately, the little girl, who the parents asked to remain anonymous, never had to worry about gators.

Hill said he sprinted towards the pond, thinking all the way that the girl was probably going to drown.

“I knew when I heard the splash that she had fallen in, and I figured she would drown,” he said. “When I got there, she was in the water flat on her back, going under, and I just grabbed her real quick. She was spitting up water, but she was OK.”

By that time, the neighbors had figured out what had happened and were running to the pond as well.

“There were so many people at the crawfish boil, that everyone thought someone else was watching her,” Cogswell said. “It’s so easy when you have that many people at a gathering.”

Hill is a freshman at East St. John High School, and is a member of the First United Methodist Church. His father is Michael Hill Sr.