Location: Englewood, Colorado
Date: June 30, 1992
The Bradley family was excited about their new home in Englewood, Colorado. It had a pool in the backyard and the children loved to swim. On June 30, 1992, a few days after moving in, Rosemary Aird-Bradley promised eight-year-old Kristen, five-year-old David, and two-year-old Stephen that they could go swimming after she and her in-laws, Donald and Estelle Bradley, finished unpacking boxes. So the kids put on their bathing suits, helped unpack, and explored the new house. Stephen wandered into the kitchen. He noticed the sliding glass door leading to the backyard was open, so he toddled outside.
As Rosemary unpacked boxes in the basement, she realized she had neither seen or heard from Stephen in over a minute. Concerned about the pool, which was not yet fenced, she rushed outside. Rosemary couldn't see Stephen because he was sitting under a bench against the wall to her right. After scanning the pool and the yard, Rosemary went back inside. "Okay, everybody look for Stephen," Rosemary told her family.
Rosemary, Estelle, and the kids searched upstairs, downstairs, and in the basement. Kristen recalled seeing the open sliding glass door, so she went outside. To her horror, she saw Stephen's small body floating facedown in the pool. Kristen jumped into the water and screamed to her mother as she swam to Stephen and carried his lifeless body out of the pool. Rosemary heard Kristen's screams and ran outside. She helped Kristen lay Stephen on the ground and shouted to Estelle to call 911.
Dispatcher Doug Terry, of South-Metro Fire Dispatch, answered Estelle's call. "We have a two-year-old, and he's split his head open. He fell in the pool and we need help," Estelle reported, trying to remain calm. As she looked across the yard, Estelle was confusing Rosemary's red blouse for blood. She didn't realize that the problem was much more serious, nor did dispatcher Terry, at first.
Estelle ran outside with the phone. "I think he's dead," Rosemary said to her in tears. "He's not breathing." Stephen didn't have a pulse, either. As Rosemary, a nurse, racked her brain to remember her CPR training, she felt devastated and overwhelmed with guilt that she could let something like this happen. "We think he's dead," Estelle relayed to Terry, struggling not to fall apart. "Is he breathing?" asked Terry. "He's not breathing." Terry flipped open his medical cards and told Estelle to relay his exact instructions to Rosemary. As Terry walked them through CPR over the phone, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department and Castlewood Fire Department were dispatched to the scene. Deputy Teresa Keenan was first to arrive, four minutes later.
Deputy Keenan took over administering CPR until the advanced life support unit arrived, led by paramedic Bob Smith. Smith raced to Stephen, who was still without breath or pulse, picked him up, and ran to the ambulance. Paramedics continued to administer CPR en route to the hospital, and soon they detected a heartbeat.
Stephen was treated at Littleton Hospital by Dr. John Riccio. When he began to "posture"--or become very combative, a sign of serious brain injury--Dr. Riccio worried that if Stephen did survive, he would have severe brain damage. Stephen was airlifted to Porter Memorial Hospital in a comatose state. Two days later, he awakened. Remarkably, the next morning, he was running down the hills. He was released from the hospital with no signs of physical or neurological damage.
Today, the Bradleys' pool is fenced and padlocked, something they should have done, says Rosemary, before they moved in. The family is overwhelmingly grateful that Stephen was given a second chance. "You find yourself realizing how precious life is and how quickly it can be snatched away," says Stephen's father, Barrie. "So do your best to appreciate everything that life has to give you."