CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Jonathan LaVine of Clovis is a CPR instructor. Charlotte Longoria and Vera Sena of Toyland Daycare have gone through a class on CPR with LaVine each year for the past six years.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
He walked away for just a second and that was all it took for little Ezra to slip under the water and go silent.
Three days later, Joshua Satterfield is filled with mixed emotions — gratitude for the neighbor who saved his son’s life, fear and protectiveness after the toddler’s brush with death, and overwhelming guilt that keeps him up at night.
Satterfield was watching his 15-month-old son play in the tub Friday night and remembers walking about 15 feet to the dryer to grab a warm towel.
Satterfield estimates he was gone about 30 seconds; long enough to get the towel and situate a load of laundry.
The next thing he remembers is screaming his wife’s name as he saw Ezra lying motionless on the bottom of the tub, the water just deep enough to cover his mouth.
His lips blue, his body lifeless, Josh snatched his son from the tub and handed him to his wife, placing a panicked call to 911 as they ran next door to their neighbor, a CPR instructor.
Jonathan LaVine had just arrived home when he was startled by urgent banging on his door.
A terrified Josh Satterfield stood in the doorway with a phone to his ear, telling a dispatcher his son had drowned. Behind him, Tabatha Satterfield held a wet, naked unresponsive child in her arms.
Though he trains others in what to do, LaVine said he was totally unprepared for the shock of the situation.
“(Tabatha) was hysterical. She thought her child was dead,” LaVine recalled.
“I froze. I train people to enter the situation, to come upon the situation not to have the situation invade your kitchen. It took me a couple seconds.”
LaVine, a contractor for the American Heart Association who teaches CPR certification courses at area daycare centers, said he laid Ezra on the floor and started compressions.
Almost immediately Ezra began coughing and expelled fluids, then began breathing again.
“Tabatha hugged me and said that she could never thank me enough and actually broke down crying in my arms. And Ezra looked at me like who are you,” LaVine said laughing.
LaVine said he is happy he was able to help the Satterfields and even happier Ezra’s parents have expressed an interest in learning CPR.
“I think that anybody with child in the house and just everybody period should learn…CPR. It takes a couple hours and you’ll know what to do in your house if an emergency happens,” he said.
And now, having experienced first-hand the emotion and urgency of working to save a child’s life, the incident has already changed the way LaVine teaches classes to daycare providers as he incorporates preparing them for sheer panic
“Maybe I was a little too light on some of the role play scenes with some of my students (before). I didn’t up-play the panic of the people in the situation enough… Even the police were running… And I’m glad they were,” he said.
Josh Satterfield said he is thankful LaVine, who he called “our life-saver”, was home in their time of need.
But the relief is tinged with his feelings of responsibility for the near loss of his son.
“I haven’t really had a good night’s sleep since then. I shouldn’t have left him in there. They tell you over and over and you never think it could be you,” he said.
But with Ezra able to walk a little and maneuver around independently, Satterfield said he thought he would be OK.
“I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I can’t believe I did it… That’s my boy, that’s my only boy. He’s my trooper.”
Ezra has slept with his parents since Friday and has had only showers, no baths, he said, explaining, “We can’t leave his side.”
Satterfield said his anguish over the incident is compounded by a police investigation.
No charges have been filed, however the incident is being investigated by police and child welfare personnel, according to Capt. Patrick Whitney.
“It’s considered child neglect because he did drown and was revived. They’re lucky… Most people know you can’t leave a child that age alone in a bathtub ” he said Monday.