Child thanks firefighters for saving him after being freed from pool jet

By Danica Sauter and Joylyn Bukovac

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    CHAPEL HILL, Tennessee (WSMV) -- The 5-year-old who got his hand stuck in the pool earlier this week got to meet the firefighters who saved him. 5-year-old Leon Johnston, and his family, thanked the Chapel Hill and Franklin firefighters for saving Leon’s life. Leon gave his heroes some artwork and muffins he made.

“Words can’t say how appreciative we are of all you guys and the hard work. It was grueling. I mean 100-degree weather and in that pool,” said Daniel Johnston, Leon’s dad. “As I said to several other people, concrete and PVC can be repaired, but a hand, an arm, or even a life obviously is real tough.”

More than 15 people worked to rescue Leon after his hand got stuck in a swimming pool pump. Leon’s mom, Lydia, said she warned him about the suction. His arm got sucked in when he held onto the pool wall.

“I had told them to stay away from any holes in the pool because they are dangerous, but he’s five,” Lydia said.

It took hours to free his arm. Leon was counting down those moments.

“180 minutes,” Leon said; that’s how long he was stuck. Those minutes felt like an eternity for Leon’s mom.

“It was frightening; all the possibilities of what could happen were going through my mind,” Lydia said; she is just thankful the first responders were able to drill through the pool wall carefully and cut the pool pipe without hurting Leon.

Lydia is also grateful for everyone who jumped into action once they heard her cry for help, including Leon’s 7-year-old sister, who went to get the keys to turning off the pool’s pump.

Leon says he’s ready to get back in the water and swim again once his neighborhood pool is repaired.

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