Kaitaia couple Vicki and Karlos Marron will be forever grateful that their 2-year-old daughter, Keva, did not lose her life when she fell into the adult pool at Kaitaia's public swimming baths on December 11.
They were distressed, however, that earlier reports on the rescue contained some inaccuracies, did not acknowledge those who had helped save their daughter's life, and, sparked a social media storm that inferred that they were bad parents.
"Many heroes helped save our daughter's life," Mrs Marron said. "I need that to be known so I can be happy in my heart."
Mr Marron said: "All we care about is that our daughter is still here with us, but we need to tell our story so we can have real closure."
Keva, who was at the baths with her brothers, Khardinn, 11, and Austin, 8, for the Child Cancer Foundation Christmas party, had spent much of the afternoon in the children's pool, under the constant supervision of her parents.
Late in the day, as everyone was packing up, she had left the water but somehow fell into the adult pool. At that stage there were about a dozen children present.
Six of them, including Austin, and an adult were in the water.
A 9-year-old girl raised the alarm, Austin going to his sister's aid, lifting her - although she was not face-down, as originally reported.
The lifeguard - a second lifeguard who had been there earlier had left - who had been sitting in a chair near the pool office phoned for an ambulance, having to give the address twice.
Mr Marron, who dived into the pool, lifted Keva out of the water and began CPR finally snatched the phone and gave the address a third time.
Keva was showing no signs of life, and it took several minutes of CPR, performed by her father then Taunaha Smith, another member of the Child Cancer Foundation, to bring her around.
The lifeguard had gone into shock, Mrs Smith said, but responded to her request for assistance, breathing for Keva while Mrs Smith continued CPR.
Throughout this time Austin was offering encouragement and comforting his older brother.
By the time an ambulance arrived, perhaps five minutes after the phone call, Keva was breathing and had vomited, although she was still unresponsive.
When she began crying and moaning Mrs Smith put her in the recovery position, finally believing that she was going to be OK.
Mr Marron took the boys home while Mrs Marron accompanied her daughter to Kaitaia Hospital in the ambulance, then by rescue helicopter to Whangarei, where she spent three nights.
"We never left her side," she said.
Now Keva is back at her daycare and showing no signs of harm, although she reminds her parents daily that she fell into the pool, and assures them that she will not do that again.
"She remembers that she fell into the pool and the helicopter but nothing in between," Mrs Marron said.
"Perhaps she banged her head when she fell. Maybe that's why she didn't splash."
She was not impressed, however, that the pool had opened again the next day, and hosted a school.
"That freaked me out," she said. "It showed no respect at all for what had happened."
... we need to tell our story so we can have real closure.
Mrs Smith's husband, Wayne, said his concern was that such an incident should never happen again.
He and his wife, and the Marrons, were pleased that the Far North District Council, which owns the pool, had undertaken to investigate, but no one from management contractor CBEC had made contact to offer support or to check on Keva or her family.
Mr Smith added that Keva's parents had been further distressed by much of the public and social media reaction to the incident, as reported on December 13.
"We've been made out to be bad parents, and we're not," Mr Marron said.
"What had been a beautiful day turned out to be a horrible day, one that we will never forget," his wife added.
"We are blessed with the final outcome, but we need real closure now, and telling our story will help us achieve that."
The Marron family wishes to give special thanks to the Smith and Blair Namana families, Janet Masina and "everyone who held us in their hearts".
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