Deputy helps save girl from drowning at own birthday party

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A 4-year-old Florida girl nearly drowned at her own birthday party Sunday, but an off-duty deputy helped save her life.

According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Cpl. Jeff Haire was spending a day with his family at Frank Brown Park in Panama City when he spotted a man with a girl in his arms yelling for help.  The man, whom the sheriff’s office did not name, said he had pulled the little girl from the bottom of the pool. He believed she may have been underwater a few minutes.

When Cpl. Haire couldn’t find a pulse, he began CPR with help from the park lifeguards. Eventually, he finally felt a faint heartbeat and, moments later, the girl began to cry.  By that point, paramedics had arrived to take her to the hospital.

Family members identified the girl as Davieonna Howard. They were at the park to celebrate her fourth birthday.

Davieonna's mother called Haire her daughter's "guardian angel."

"He saved my child's life and that's all that matters right now," she told WJHG-TV.  "God ordained for him to be there."

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As of last word, Davieonna was recovering in good condition and shared a smile with Cpl. Haire, who paid a visit to her in the hospital.

“I am proud of Cpl. Haire and his quick response to prevent what could have been a tragedy,” Sheriff Tommy Ford said.  “And very happy for this family who will remember that day as a one for miracles and not heartbreak.”