Bluffton man rescues child from Mill Creek pool

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BLUFFTON

Bluffton man rescues child from Mill Creek pool

By ALLISON STICE
astice@islandpacket.com
Published Monday, July 30, 2012   |  402 Words  |  

Frank Szczepanik of Bluffton was walking around the Mill Creek swimming pool Thursday afternoon, on his way home, when he spotted what looked like a doll in the water.

Then he realized it was a baby girl floating face down.

No one else was around, and Szczepanik knew he had to act quickly. The Mill Creek resident scooped the 21-month-old girl, who had turned blue and wasn't breathing, from the "lazy river" part of the pool and began CPR.

"It took me a good minute and a half before she spit up water," Szczepanik said Monday.

Seconds later the girl's eyes opened as several people, including the girl's father, rushed over. Szczepanik, a 47-year-old retired longshoreman from New Jersey, credits his knowledge of CPR to his training while in the National Guard.

As police and paramedics began to arrive in Mill Creek, a neighborhood off of S.C. 170, Szczepanik picked up his towel and headed for home.

"I heard the baby cry so I knew she was going to be all right," he said.

According to a Bluffton police report, the child's mother told officers she was nursing her newborn when she heard people yelling about a baby in the pool. She thought her husband was watching her daughter, last seen in the shallow end.

The woman said the child might have gotten caught in the lazy river -- a gentle current that is part of the amenities at the Mill Creek pool -- and been pulled to the opposite end, where Szczepanik spotted her.

Since Szczepanik left before police arrived, no one knew who had saved the girl. The rescuer is referred to as only an "unidentified man" in the police report.

Bluffton police Sgt. Joe Babkiewicz said he was determined that the rescuer get credit. He tracked down Szczepanik over the weekend to interview him for the police record.

The baby was taken to Hilton Head Hospital after the incident as a precaution, was released and is doing fine, Babkiewicz said.

Szczepanik was glad to hear it.

"I was just in the right place at the right time," he said.