Sacramento woman lauded for saving toddler's life

8:50 PM, Sep 26, 2012   |    comments
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  • Elise Nelson with family
  • Austin Lee

SACRAMENTO, CA - A young woman's casual glance from her upstairs apartment saved a 2-year-old boy whose lifeless body was floating in the swimming pool.

Elise Nelson, 24, was presented with a special commendation Wednesday from the Sacramento Police Department for her heroic actions at the River Walk Villas apartment complex July 25.

Nelson happened to look down from her patio and saw a 3-year-old boy holding the hand of his younger brother, floating face down in the pool.

She raced downstairs to the pool and pulled the younger child from the water.

"I thought the boy was dead.  He didn't have a pulse," Nelson recalled.

The child's mother, Choonhwa Lee, was talking on the phone in the parking lot, oblivious to the crisis in the swimming pool.

Nelson started CPR on the child and called 911 from Lee's phone.

By the time paramedics arrived, Austin Lee was breathing on his own and was released from the hospital the following day.

Austin's mother was arrested on a charge of felony child endangerment and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel said Nelson actually saved two children that day.

"She not only saved the life of a 2-year-old, but basically saved a 3-year-old from the trauma of having to live with the loss of his brother," Braziel said. 

Nelson, a professional tutor, said she learned CPR at an early age.

"I did everything I could and I'm very thankful he's alive and OK," she said.

By George Warren,


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