Baby Caroline Detillier received a surprise welcome from St. Charles Borromeo Students on May 3 upon her return home from the hospital after nearly drowning four days earlier in a friend’s swimming pool.
The 20-month-old daughter of Jody and Michelle Detillier, of Destrehan, has fully recovered but was a little confused by all the attention in the wake of the accident.
“We are so grateful to our friends for helping us during this time,” said the little girl’s father.
“We are overwhelmed.”
Caroline’s brush with death took place on a Sunday afternoon at Todd and Melissa Guidry’s home, the family said.
Several families had gotten together at the Guidry’s home to swim and relax.
Close friend Vicki Danna told the Herald-Guide how Caroline got into trouble - and almost drowned.
“I know that (Caroline’s mother) Michelle would want other parents to realize how easily this can happen so that it doesn’t happen to them,” she said.
“All of the adults were right there, and the children were swimming.
“She had been sitting in the hot tub with her older sister. Then she got out to go to her mother.”
No one knows exactly what happened next, but in an instant that will be frozen in their memories forever, the children spotted Caroline’s still lifeless body floating under the water.
The toddler’s older brother, Reid, was the first to get to her - and he quickly, and courageously, brought her limp body to the surface.
“The children were hysterical as we pulled what we thought was a dead baby out of the pool,” said Danna, choking up as she described the horrific scene that unfolded before her.
“The baby wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse. And she was gray-blue.”
Nurse-practitioner Allison Swanson was also at the get-together.
As Caroline’s little body was pulled out of the water, Danna recalled, Swanson took control of the situation.
“She was trained for this - Allison knew exactly what to do and she revived Caroline within three minutes,” said Danna.
“I don’t believe Caroline would be alive right now if it wasn’t for her.”
At the height of the drama, as the nurse practitioner struggled to breathe life back into the baby’s tiny lungs, friends and family members who had been on the verge of hysteria suddenly grew silent - and almost as if on cue, they began to pray.
“All eight children dropped to their knees simultaneously and began praying,” said Danna.
“It was astonishing that they just started praying for Caroline like that. Then the adults joined in.”
The group prayed non-stop until 10 p.m., said Danna. They even got to a computer and alerted Internet prayer groups from as far away as Mexico and Puerto Rico to help.
“I don’t know how to explain it, this Destrehan community is really special,” Danna said.
As people in Destrehan and across the country prayed for Caroline, she was put on life-support.
That was all doctors could do as the baby battled for her life.
But when all was said and done, the medical know-how - and the prayers - paid off.
Caroline was taken off of life support after two days, and was sent home fully recovered after four days.
Doctors said there was no sign of organ damage, leading them to believe she couldn’t have been under the water for longer than a minute.
It takes just 15 seconds for a baby or young child to turn blue once they get water in their lungs, they said.
The Detilliers are just thankful for all of the people who prayed for their baby and helped the family in its hour of need.
“It’s a huge reminder of how delicate life is,” Jody Detillier said.
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