A four-year-old girl reunited Tuesday with the Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter and paramedic who saved her life after she nearly drowned in the pool of a Hawaii resort in August.
Sophia Rouse, who was then 3 years old, was vacationing with her family in Maui when her mother says she disappeared and then was found unconscious at the bottom of a pool.
That’s when the firefighter and medic, Daniel Harris who was also on vacation with his family, sprang into action. With his training, Harris pulled Sophia out of the water and was able to help her regain consciousness, the LAFD said.
Harris was honored at a fire station in Westchester Tuesday, receiving a special certificate of appreciation for saving Sophia’s life.
The little girl and her family flew to Los Angeles from Hawaii to attend the event and express their gratitude to Harris.
“Sophia had several angels watching over her that day and we are beyond blessed and grateful that heroes are among us,” Sophia’s mother, Kandice Johns said while holding back tears. “Firefighter Harris probably never thought that over 3,000 miles away from the intense responsibility and demands of his job, he will be needed to breathe life back into my child.”
The family said they will always have a special connection to Harris.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re on-duty or off-duty, you’re a firefighter 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and for that we’re extremely proud,” LAFD Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said while presenting the award to Harris.
The fire chief listed several other instances when off-duty LAFD firefighters saved people while on vacation, one as far as Australia, where an officer saved a diver from a great White Shark bite.
Harris thanked the department for his award and said, “I’m happy Sophia is here, because that’s the most important thing.”
The grateful family placed a lei, a traditional Hawaiian floral wreath around the firefighter’s neck and hugged and thanked him.
“Every day we think about how our lives would have never been the same if he had never been there and we will always be thankful,” Sophia’s mother said of Harris.