LAKE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - We have a very special reunion to share with you, one that almost did not happen. An off-duty Lake County Firefighter saved a toddler from Ohio from drowning at an Orlando resort, and now, the family is here again for a very special reason.
We watch as four-year-old Taylor Washburn runs to Lake County Firefighter Shannon Bush to give him a big hug, and we can tell in that moment, there will likely be many more going both ways. "This trip was well worth it!" said Mom Andrea Washburn. "We haven't even seen anything, done anything... just [here] to give him a hug!" And she laughs, truly joyously.
The Washburn family arrived in Central Florida Friday from Columbus, Ohio. They drove fourteen hours straight and will drive back Sunday. Andrea and little Taylor haven't seen Shannon since last May when they were staying at an Orlando resort celebrating Taylor's 4th birthday. It was a celebration that took a very scary turn, when Taylor ended up at the bottom of a pool, nearly drowning.
Another man pulled her out, and that's when Shannon, who happened to be there on vacation with his family, jumped into action. Shannon describes that moment, "I ran over there and initiated CPR. She didn't have a pulse and wasn't breathing."
Andrea remembers the moment all too well too. "I think I was standing behind him holding him tight like this as he was trying to get her to breathe and stuff, and we instantly became family right then and there."
And like Shannon's relatives, this extended family created through circumstance wanted to be there to celebrate as Shannon received the 2015 Fire Officer of the Year Award Friday night. Shannon is grateful and humble about the award. He is emotional as he talks about Taylor.
"Her mom asked her if she remembered anything, and mom teared up and told me she said she was trying to pull her braids to pull herself back on top of the water. That was sad."
Shannon said he has kept in touch with Taylor the entire time, saying, "We've been on FaceTime and such. It's awesome!"
Awesome enough to receive an award, and awesome enough to win the love of the little girl he saved.