Richmond Hill resident Domineau Getner also received a Good Citizen Award for retrieving Sullivan from the pool after witnessing MacLeish’s rescue.
On May 28, Sullivan apparently reached for a noodle pool toy and went head first into the deep end of the pool unnoticed. MacLeish said she became alert when she noticed bubbles and swam to Sullivan.
MacLeish said she reached below the bubbles and felt Sullivan’s hair. MacLeish commenced to plunge down, grab hold of Sullivan and get her above the water line. Domineau Getner, who had taken MacLeish and several other girls to the pool, saw Sullivan’s body come out of the water and rushed to pull her out.
"It looked like she struggling to get out of the water and I didn’t even see Jessica at that point," Getner said.
Getner didn’t see MacLeish because the 11-year-old was submerged underwater as she held Sullivan above her head. Getner said the 3-year-old, once out of the pool, coughed up water several times before gaining her senses.
"I don’t think can put into words how I feel about Jessica," Katie’s mother Julia Sullivan said. "We will be forever grateful for her act of courage. It’s amazing that she would act so quickly. This all happened in a matter of seconds, and another kid may have hesitated."
Julia Sullivan said she took her eyes off her daughter for just a second as she was speaking to another parent, and that this incident should serve as a wake-up call to parents and guardians everywhere about the potential hazards of swimming pools.
MacLeish said she is honored to receive praise from the city and is most pleased that little Katie is alive and well.
"Nobody ever saw her (Katie) go in the water," Getner said. "We were meant to be at the pool this day. This is just God just making right with something that would have been very sad."
RHPD Cpl. Susan Willis said she was so moved by the story that she sought out to do something special for MacLeish and Getner.
"We heard about third party and just thought it was such an amazing story that we wanted to recognize the people involved in saving this little precious angel’s life," Willis said during the presentation.