LOVELAND, Ohio — The Loveland-Symmes Fire Department honored 6-year-old Holden Smith on Thursday night with an award for saving the life of his cousin while on a family vacation.
“I just asked him today, ‘How did you know how to save her? How did you know how to tell us?’” Holden’s mother, Lindsay Smith, said. “He said, ‘I don’t know. I just knew.’”
During a family trip to an area just outside Ashville, North Carolina, last June, Holden’s 3-year-old cousin Magnolia slipped away while the adults were applying sunblock to the kids. He found her later, unresponsive, in the hot tub.
“She looked like she was in trouble,” he said. “I tried to get her out, but she was too heavy, so then I turned and asked Mom.”
The family said they knew how close to tragedy they were.
“It happened so quick,” Lindsay Smith said. “I’m just so proud of him.”
With emergency crews nearly 20 minutes away, saving Magnolia’s life became a team effort.
“Kind of a blur,” Magnolia’s father, Chris Camp, said. “Luckily, her grandpa was there by my side, just kind of coaching me. Getting her breathing again."
A cheerful and healthy Magnolia watched Thursday as Holden got his award, a challenge coin and a jacket he can grow into.
Firefighters said they hope this situation will serve as a reminder to all parents during the upcoming summer season.
“The question has to be, whenever you’re around or near water with kids, who’s watching the kids?” Loveland-Symmes deputy fire chief Billy Goldfeder said.
The quick-thinking of a 6-year-old turned into a family’s heroic action.
“Thankfully she’s still here,” Camp said. “She made it. We’ve definitely grown closer as a family. You never know. It took a split second for it to happen.”