Family calls local boy a hero after he saves his brother’s life

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 22, 2017

 Jacob O’Connor credits a movie for helping him save his brother, Dylan Meadows.

Jacob O’Connor credits a movie for helping him save his brother, Dylan Meadows.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

ROSEVILLE — A local family is calling their son a hero after he found his younger brother unresponsive in their family pool and performed chest compressions July 25.

It was an ordinary day at their nana’s house for Jacob O’Connor, 10; Gavin Hawkins, 8; and Dylan Meadows, 2 — filled with time in the sun and playing in the family pool.

Ellen Viau was babysitting her daughter’s three sons and thought the day would be like most days when her grandsons are over.

“We usually take Dylan in the pool, and he swims in his swimming vest,” said Viau.

Viau said she had her screen door locked, the doorwall locked and the gate to the pool locked.

Viau remembers she was about to put Meadows down for a nap when her oldest grandson ran into the room to let her know that Meadows “got out the back door.”

Hawkins was inside the home watching television.

Prior to O’Connor telling his nana about his brother, he began giving compressions to Meadows, since he was unresponsive once out of the pool.

Viau thought that when O’Connor came to her, Meadows had “just got out the back door.”

“I ran to the back door and ran outside. Dylan was laying on the deck and he was not responsive,” she said. “At that point, Jacob said he had pulled Dylan out of the pool, and before he came to get me gave him chest compressions,” she added.

O’Connor said that when he went to check on his brother, Meadows was still in the kitchen area. The next time he saw Meadows, he was floating in the pool.

O’Connor said his brother was by the ladder in the pool. He was able to pull Meadows out without getting into the pool.

O’Connor’s favorite actor is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. O’Connor said he learned about chest compressions from watching the movie “San Andreas.”

In the specific scene O’Connor was referring to, Johnson was trying to save his daughter, who was underwater in a building after a tsunami hit the area.

“I was scared when I saw (Dylan) in the pool,” he said. “My favorite movie, ‘San Andreas,’ had compressions in the movie,” said O’Connor. “I remembered it from the part in the movie where there was an earthquake, then there was a tsunami, and the girl was drowning,” he said.

“In most movies, that’s what they do. They try to save the person first, and if it’s not working, they go get someone,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor said he went to get his grandmother after his brother was still unresponsive.
“He coughed out a bit of water,” he said. “I ran to get Nana and I told her, ‘Dylan got out and fell in the pool.’”

Viau said at that time, she proceeded to give Meadows mouth to mouth, brought him into the house and called 911.

Roseville Fire Chief Michael Holland spoke on O’Connor’s actions Aug. 17.

“What an amazing thing, at 10 years old, to think in that stressful situation about what the right thing to do for your younger brother is — that’s stunning,” said Holland.  

O’Connor said that after the paramedics arrived, he was “still scared.”

“After I gave him mouth to mouth, I expected him to come to. That whole day he did not really respond,” said Viau.

Meadows was transported to St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, and he was there for observation for one day.

“It was the scariest day in my life, because I didn’t know what was going to happen, how long he had been in (the water), and I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” Viau recalled.

Viau called her daughter, Christa O’Connor, who was at work during the incident.

“I told my boss, ‘I have to go,’ and she asked me if I needed her to drive me. When I saw my mom calling me, I felt like something was wrong,” she said.

O’Connor believes that Meadows “probably thought he had his vest on” the day of the incident. The family doesn’t allow Meadows in the pool without it.

In a video sent to the Eastsider from Christa O’Connor Aug. 16, Meadows’ dog paddles around the pool with a vest that has arm floats connected. 

From this experience, O’Connor said she wants her son to take CPR classes.

“I’m going into law enforcement, and that’s one of the requirements I have to do. I thought to at least have Jacob take the class with me,” she said.

O’Connor said she was blown away at her son’s quick thinking.

“‘San Andreas’ is a great movie, and I’m so happy he watched it and remembered that scene,” said O’Connor.

“He is a hero. When I saw him, I gave him the biggest hug and I told him, ‘It’s because of you that he’s still here. You saved his life,’” said O’Connor. 

The scary incident hasn’t stopped Meadows from loving pool time.

“By the next day, Dylan was back to normal,” said O’Connor. “I’m just happy my son thought to be a first responder. He’s a hero in our eyes,” she said.