N.S. girl with cerebral palsy saves baby brother from drowning in pool

A 9-year-old Nova Scotia girl with cerebral palsy is being hailed a hero for saving her baby brother from drowning in their family’s backyard pool.

“You don’t need to be able to walk and talk,” Lexie’s grandmother, Nancy Comeau-Drisdelle, told CTV Atlantic. “You can still make yourself heard and you can still help. And yes, she did save his life.”

Comeau-Drisdelle and Lexie’s mother, Kelly Jackson, had been getting ready for Lexie’s ninth birthday party at the family’s Dartmouth home while Lexie, who uses a wheelchair to get around, watched them work from the kitchen. When Lexie’s 18-month-old brother Leeland woke up from a nap, their mother went upstairs to get changed.

“Mum brought him downstairs for me,” Jackson, a mother of three, said. “We didn’t communicate about, oh the door isn’t locked.”

With Leeland in the kitchen, Comeau-Drisdelle turned around for a few seconds -- and that’s when the little boy slipped out the back door.

"And the scary thing is that he opened the door and closed it behind him, and he had never opened that patio door before,” Jackson said.

Realizing that her baby brother could in trouble, Lexie started shrieking.

“She’s yelling and she’s pointing at the door, and I realize Leeland’s not with her,” Comeau-Drisdelle recalled.

“All of the sudden, I’m upstairs and I hear her screaming like bloody murder,” Jackson added. "We've never heard her scream like that."

Comeau-Drisdelle quickly rushed into the backyard.

“I took off outside and I’m not seeing him,” Comeau-Drisdelle said. “I ran, and he’s right by the edge (of the pool) and I took him out.”

Leeland coughed up some water, but was otherwise fine, his family said. He was later taken to hospital as a precaution.

Within two days of the incident, the family also installed a fence and a locked gate between their house and pool.

As Jackson shared the story with CTV Atlantic, Lexie beamed. It will, the family says, be a birthday to remember.

"I hugged her, I cried and I still thank her every day,” Jackson said. “Because honestly, in that matter, two seconds makes a huge difference."

For her quick and heroic actions, Lexie recently received awards from Halifax Regional Police and her local MLA. Later this week, she will also be honoured at Halifax City Hall.

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Heather Butts