Daytona Beach hotel employees honored for saving 3-year-old boy from drowning

Two hotel employees in Daytona Beach were recognized Wednesday for saving a three-year-old boy from drowning earlier this year.

The Florida Department of Children and Families honored Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort employees Wanda Vanbarclume and Mike Johnson at the Lodging and Hospitality Association of Volusia County meeting in Daytona Beach. They were each awarded a plaque.

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The employees were working at the Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort in late March when a boy fell into the hot tub. Police said the boy’s mother was sitting in the water a few feet away with friends but they did not notice the boy fell into the water.

Vanbarclume said she was watching the two boys playing in the hot tub on the security monitors when it happened.

“I don’t know what drew me to keep an eye on those boys but I did.” She said when the three-year-old boy fell into the water she grabbed her radio. “I said, maintenance get over there. There’s a little boy drowning in the hot tub… Well he ran over so fast he forgot his radio.”

Johnson, who does maintenance and engineering work at the resort, ran to the pool area but did not see anything at first so we began his nightly routine. Once he turned off the jets to the hot tub, Johnson said he saw the boy, jumped in and pulled him out of the water.

“We started CPR and he didn’t look to well but he started coming to,” Johnson recalled. The boy was taken to the hospital and made a full recovery.

Vanbarclume got the chance to meet the boy last week. “He gave me a high five and hugged. It was an emotional meeting but I’m glad I got to see him.”

“It was just a wonderful thing that these people did,” said Charles Puckett, the circuit seven community development administrator with DCF. Puckett also taking the time to remind parents to watch their children whenever they are near water. “Always have someone designated to keep an eye on a child. We also recommend that children ages 4 and up have swim lessons.”

Vanbarclume and Johnson said while it feels nice to be honored they were just doing their jobs. “It’s a family resort and it’s what we do. We watch over each other,” Vanbarclume said.

Johnson said, “I was just in the right place at the right time and I did what anybody would do in my shoes I hope.” Johnson said he will always remember that a tragedy was narrowly avoided. “Every once in a while when I walk by the hot tub I remember what happened but I try to keep it in a far place in my mind. It’s not a happy memory,” Johnson said.

Police charged the boy’s mother with felony child neglect, saying she was drunk and high when her son nearly drowned.