Belfast Telegraph

Lifeguard's 10-minute battle at Ibiza poolside to save young Derry boy

By Gerard Couzens

A Northern Ireland youngster cheated death after nearly drowning in his hotel pool in Ibiza during a family holiday.

A lifeguard saved 11-year-old Ethan Harkin after pulling him out of the water unconscious and working to resuscitate him for 10 minutes with the help of an off-duty doctor.

Traumatised dad Damien Robson (39), from Londonderry, looked on helplessly as the pair performed mouth-to-mouth and chest pumps on the youngster as they fought to save his life.

He finally came round after vomiting water he had swallowed when he accidentally strayed into the deep end of the pool while trying to recover a ball he had been playing with.

He was taken to hospital for tests – and given the all-clear hours later after doctors said he had not suffered any brain damage from his ordeal.

Yesterday he was splashing around in the water again with his relieved relatives.

The drama happened at Hi! Montemar Apartments in Cala Llonga, near the family-friendly resort of Santa Eulalia in Ibiza around 12.30pm on Saturday.

Ethan was just two days into a 10-day holiday with his dad, a welfare rights worker, mum Erin Harkin (33) and one-year-old brother Odhran.

Damien said last night: "They were the worst and best hours of my life in the space of a single day.

"I had just come back from the shops when I saw the lifeguard diving into the water and pulling a boy out of the pool, who was floating on the surface. Erin was by the beds in another part of the pool.

"I looked at them from the other side of the pool thinking: 'Poor lad, poor parents', and only recognised Ethan by his swimming shorts a few moments later.

"It was an awful feeling, one I can't describe in words.

"The colour had gone from him completely and he wasn't moving.

"Seeing him come to after those moments of agony was the most fantastic feeling of my life.

"If it wasn't for the lifeguard and the person who responded to a call for a doctor and all the hotel staff who helped out in whatever way they could, things could have turned out very differently.

"Ethan's fine now and has been back in the shallow end, but obviously I'm not going to let him out of my sight for the rest of the holidays.

"He never goes in the deep end but there was a slope in the pool he hadn't realised was there, and he tired and swallowed water as he went after the ball and found himself unable to get back up to the surface.

"He said he was trying to bounce on the bottom of the pool and push himself up with his hands but couldn't."

Hotel lifeguard Sona Zanoguera added: "I spotted the lad was floating on the surface when I came back from getting water.

"There were only a few people in the pool because it was lunchtime and no one had realised he was there.

"I shouted 'help' to attract attention and dived in to pull him out of the water.

"He must have vomited two or three litres of water he had swallowed. I thought I had lost him before that wonderful moment when he started moving and I felt a pulse.

"The 10 minutes we were battling to save his life seemed like an eternity. His dad was screaming uncontrollably beside him, 'please save him'.

"He's made a total recovery. It's a joy to see him back in the water, although his dad is watching over him like a hawk now and making sure he stays in the shallow end."

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