Lifeguard praised for saving toddler's life


REDDING, Calif. - A Shingletown family is thankful for an on-duty lifeguard who saved their two-year-old daughter while on a family outing to Whiskeytown.

Abby Forbes is child number seven in the Forbes family, and she turned two in June.

On July 14, her family left their home in Shingletown for a day on Whiskeytown Lake where they met up with other families they knew from a home schooling group.

Abby's mom, Jessica, said Abby was just feeding the geese and playing in the water. She recounted that she thought her husband was watching Abby so she went to the concession stand. Abby's dad didn't realize his wife was gone and thought Jessica was watching Abby.

The next thing they knew, Abby was face down in the water.

At first, Jessica said she thought it was one of her sons that had just learned to swim.

"When I realized it was her," Jessica said. "I ran down and pulled her out of the water real quick and she was all blue and pale and she wasn't breathing."

Her husband began calling for a lifeguard, and that is when 20-year-old Dean Knapp raced over to Abby and started chest compressions.

Abby's dad had some C.P.R knowledge and did the mouth-to-mouth while Knapp did the compressions.

"It was definitely team work, yeah," Knapp said. "The father, myself, and the whole Whiskeytown crew."

Kirsten Sanderson-Cornelius, who witnessed the entire ordeal, described it as a parent's worst nightmare.

She said all the families at the beach that day came together.

"Packed everything in their car, loaded it up for them," Sanderson-Cornelius said. "I mean everything. It was just the entire community rallied. It was really nice to see."

Sanderson-Cornelius said the families were trying to help but it was Knapp who deserves the credit.

"I was so impressed with what he did and the fact that he did it, then came right back to work," Sanderson-Cornelius said. "I mean, we were all shaken. We're all parents and there were six or seven of us that stood there afterward in shock. He literally just went right back to work and it was so impressive."

Some are calling Knapp a hero, but he says he was just doing his job.

The lifeguards at Brandy Creek Beach are Red Cross certified. He said he's been a lifeguard for two and a half years and he's had nearly 15 rescues. Abby, however, was the first time he had to start C.P.R.

"He literally, I have no doubt about it, he brought that baby back to life," Sanderson-Cornelius said.

The next day the Forbes clan went back to the beach and thanked Knapp.

"I thought that was really neat because the whole night I was worried about it," Knapp said. "I was just thinking about how she was and if she was ok and it really brought ease to my heart to know that they were ok."

Abby's parents said she spent minimal time in the hospital afterward. Right after the near drowning, she got a fever, but it eventually cleared up.

She's now well and excited for her family's next trip to the lake. Her brothers say she now has a little floaty just in case she tries to take another dip.

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