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Queen Creek family nearly loses 2-year-old daughter in pool drowning

Posted at 5:17 AM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 14:45:20-04

"All the sudden, I thought, 'Oh my gosh...where is Mia?!'"

Nick Preston remembers the day his 2-year-old daughter went missing for what seemed like a split second.

"Now I'm starting to get really frantic and wonder what could have gone on."

Nick had his hands full that day, watching his four kids and his nephew at his parents' house outside San Diego. The family left their home in Queen Creek for what they thought would be a few days of sun and sand that turned into anything but a vacation.

In fact, it was more like a nightmare.

"There is Mia, face down floating in the water completely motionless," Nick remembers. "I run out, jump in the pool, pull her out and start doing CPR and she is not moving, she has no pulse. I'm doing CPR with one arm and blowing in her mouth...I try to call 911 on my phone, it's... waterlogged, I run inside and pick up the landline."

From there, a 911 operator walks Nick through the next steps. Despite a tornado of emotions swirling inside him, Nick manages to stay calm and reverts back to CPR training he first got on a whim when he was a teen.

"The whole time I'm thinking, 'What have I done? I've lost my daughter.'"

As the paramedics arrive, Nick makes a phone call to his wife, Alia, that both of them will never forget.

"He said she wasn't breathing," explains Alia. "And the moment in time stops and you're just screaming, 'What?!'"

At the time, Alia was with Nick's mom, shopping at a nearby Target store. From there, they raced over to the hospital and got there as Mia was arriving by ambulance.

"They were still administering CPR. She did not have a heartbeat, and in hindsight, that could have been the last chance for me to see her."

Alia describes it as a "parent's worst nightmare."

Until there began to be a glimmer of hope.

"After we saw the MRI, the whole mood of the room changed," Alia says. "They said this is not the outcome we typically was perfect. No lack of oxygen. No blood clots. No strokes."

Despite being underwater and getting CPR for 20 minutes, Mia's doctors couldn't find any signs of permanent brain damage.

She would spend seven days in the ICU and three days in rehab just to be sure, but by the looks of it, Mia beat the odds.

"This was a miracle. It really was. We don't know long she was in the water of the first things they said is 20 minutes is a long time to have CPR administered on a little baby."

"All the doctors and nurses said over and over, 'you did some really good CPR,'" explains Nick. "Everyone keeps telling me I'm a hero and I don't feel like a hero. It almost makes me cry. I know a lot of heroes, and yeah, I saved her and got her out of the pool, but there were so many others who had something to do with it."

Two months have passed since Mia's brush with death. She's back home — even swimming in the pool again.

Nick tells ABC15 that this family takes nothing for granted.

"Love your kids. Let them know that you are there. Never pass up the opportunity to give them a hug and tell them you love them before you get them to bed."

To find a CPR class near you, click here.