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Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard honored after saving 6-year-old from drowning

Elizabeth Felten, second from left, was honored at Tuesday night's Huntington Beach City Council meeting.
Elizabeth Felten, second from left, was honored at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Also pictured are Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Marine Safety Battalion Chief Doug Leach, Marine Safety Capt. Jachin Hamborg and Program Coordinator Samantha Dieterman.
(Courtesy of Rachel Svoboda Felten)

Elizabeth Felten sprang into action.

The 12-year-old Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard was at an end-of-the-season party for her brother’s Little League team, which she helped coach, on May 15. It was a typical Southern California backyard shindig, with a pool and jetted spa.

Elizabeth, who also goes by “Lilly,” was in the spa when one of her brother’s teammates approached her.

“John came over to me and said, ‘Lilly, what’s wrong with my brother?’” she recalled. “His brother was on his side and not breathing at the deep end of the pool, floating. I had to jump from the Jacuzzi into the pool. His eyes were rolled back and his mouth was foaming. I tried to pick him up and pull him out and scream for help. His parents were only like 10 feet away, but they didn’t hear me because there was all this noise from the other kids. I screamed the loudest scream I could scream, bloody murder, and one of the coaches saw.”

Elizabeth’s father, as well as the boy’s father, performed CPR. The boy regained consciousness and was hospitalized but got to go home the following day, she said.

Elizabeth was honored for her life-saving act at Tuesday night’s Huntington Beach City Council meeting. She was commended by Mayor Barbara Delgleize, as well as Marine Safety Battalion Chief Doug Leach, Marine Safety Capt. Jachin Hamborg and Junior Lifeguard Program Coordinator Samantha Dieterman.

Elizabeth Felten is pictured with her family, City Council members and Fire Dept. leaders during Tuesday night's meeting.
Elizabeth Felten is pictured with her family, City Council members and Huntington Beach Fire Department administrators during Tuesday night’s meeting.
(Courtesy of Rachel Svoboda Felten)

Elizabeth, an incoming seventh-grader at St. Bonaventure Catholic School in Huntington Beach, said she is in her second year in the Junior Lifeguards program.

“All my friends do Junior Guards,” she said. “Even though I’ve only done it two years, it’s the thing I look forward to all year round ... I didn’t even think, I just went. It definitely helped.”

Elizabeth was joined by her dad, Brian, at Tuesday night’s recognition, as well as her mom, Rachel Svoboda Felten, and younger brother, Kevin.

Brian Felten said he felt “overwhelming pride” in his daughter’s actions.

“It’s nice to know that she’s willing to act in stressful moments,” he said. “This kind of stuff happens way too often, so awareness is part of getting that message out about being alert about what’s going on around you. An environment that you think is pretty safe can be very not safe, right under your nose. I think more parents should hear that.”

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