Woman claims she saved drowning child, YMCA disagrees

Klamath Falls, Ore. — “A lady came up to me and started yelling at me, telling me that we weren’t watching our kids and there was a girl drowning,” said Sande Jipp. Jipp is a Klamath Falls YMCA lifeguard who said a woman, Barbie Murphy, came up to her during Tuesday’s free-swim session with second-grade students from Conger Elementary.

Murphy was at the class trip, along with her mother, to join her daughter in the class. Murphy said she had just jumped in the pool to save a little girl from drowning. It wasn’t Murphy’s daughter, but she said she was keeping a close eye on the group that was in the pool – that’s when she said she noticed a girl needing help.

“She had went under a couple times and she was calling for help. The teacher was calling for help and some of the other parents and my mom was there and she was trying to flag down the lifeguard – trying to get her attention. I had to jump in and get the little girl out of the pool,” said Murphy.

The YMCA said the definition of drowning means needing to be revived, meaning someone ultimately choking. It also said that’s not what happened at the YMCA pool on Tuesday.

“After all the kids got out and left, I went and reviewed the video,” Jipp said.

You can see it all play out in the surveillance video.

“That girl just pushed off the wall. She went underwater, came up. Then the lady rushed past the teacher and got the kid,” Jipp said.

Jipp said she checked on the child after.

“She was sitting on the edge of the pool. She stood up, and she was not crying, she wasn’t choking. She didn’t seem to be in any kind of real distress,” Jipp said.

The YMCA said they followed protocol. Two lifeguards were on duty – one on each end of the pool – actively scanning the swimming area.

“According to lifeguard training, we should be able to notice when there is a problem within 10 seconds. We should be there to manage it within 20 seconds,” Jipp said.

The time between the child entering the water and Murphy jumping in to get the child is approximately six seconds.

The YMCA said safety is always its first priority, but Murphy’s not going back after this incident that she felt was too close to call.

“No, no. I will never let her go unattended again. No,” Murphy said.

The Klamath Falls YMCA location has been giving free-swim classes to schools for the last five years, to allow children to familiarize themselves with water safety.

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