Child saved from drowning by sequestered jurors

(WMC-TV) - Six year-old Shawanda Birdse's limited vocabulary includes two very appropriate words.

"Thank you," she said.

She was saved from drowning during a pool party last Thursday at the East Memphis Doubletree thanks, in large part, to a deputy and two jurors sequestered there during a murder trial.

"It wasn't nothing but God, nothing but God," said Shawanda's aunt, Nataki Jones.

"It was like not even a minute that she was in the pool and they turned her over and she's like different colors," recalled Jones.

"It's unclear how long Shawanda was in the water, but we're told she was unresponsive when pulled out.

"Someone comes out of the pool area wanting help," said Shelby County Sheriff's deputy Amy Chaffin.

She and jurors waiting to board a nearby elevator heard frantic cries for help.

"One of the jurors stated she was a doctor," said Chaffin. "The other stated she was a nurse."

Chaffin called EMS while pediatrician Jara Best and the nurse got to work.

"I checked for her pulse, she didn't have a pulse," recalled Dr. Best. "Checked for breaths, she didn't have any breaths."

Dr. Best says Shawanda finally came around after CPR and a number of chest compressions. She threw up previously swallowed pool water. She could have died without proper medical care.

"Probably," said Dr. Best.

Best believes it was beyond coincidence that she and the nurse both served on a jury that happened to be sequestered at the hotel when Shawanda Birdse needed them most.

"I'm glad we were put there for a reason and I know what the reason was to save that little girl's life," said Best.

Dr. Best and nurse Sheila Dalrymple of the West Clinic both returned to court the next day and finished their jury duty. They hope to meet Shawanda again soon. She does not remember a thing about her near drowning.

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