Lazarus of Little League

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

On Sunday, Jalen Garner was dead. On Tuesday, he was playing shortstop.

Garner is the starting shortstop for Cougar Chevron, a team in Selma’s 8-9 year-old baseball division.

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Sunday, he was swimming at the home of Howard Davis, his basketball coach at the YMCA and a registered respiratory therapist. Garner got a little too close to the deep end of the pool and sunk. By the time Davis reached him, he was clinically dead.

“It all happened so quickly,” said Davis. “My grandson hollered, ‘Poppa!’ so loudly that I understood there was trouble. I don’t remember taking but one or two steps and jumped over everything. I went to work on him, giving him CPR and mouth to mouth.

“After the fifth breath, I still couldn’t get breaths in him; I couldn’t get a pulse going. So I hollered out loudly, ‘Lord help me! I need help!'”

Davis was worried that while performing CPR, he may have pushed through Jalen to the concrete he laid on, breaking a rib or his sternum in the process. He was also worried that he may have over-expanded Jalen’s lungs. Surprisingly, neither happened. Jalen survived his resuscitation with no serious injuries.

When he was released from the hospital, he declined his mom’s invitation to go home.

He responded Tuesday night by going 1-for-3 with a double and scoring a run.

“I just kind of let loose and swung all the way. Before I left home, I prayed, and I asked God for a home run,” said Garner.

The young player didn’t get a homer, but he will at least get the chance to hit many more.

“I thank Coach Howard for saving my life. Because of him I have two birthdays-June 8 and August 5,” said Garner. “I was born again that day, thank God.”

Davis believes that all parents should learn an important lesson from his and Jalen’s story.

“These parents need to know CPR. Your child’s going to swim. Even if they’re the strongest swimmers, something can happen,” said Davis. “If you don’t know CPR, you’re going to stand beside them until the ambulance shows up, just watching your kid fade away. And parents, you didn’t even get a chance to do something for your child. But if you had done it the moment it happened, chances are he would be with you today.”