As Luck Would Have It, He’s Just Good
It’s been said you’ve got to be good to be lucky. Daniel Spracklen is a little bit of both.
For the past four years, the Seattle native has been serving guests at Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk as house-man and pool attendant.
In January 2014, his life changed forever.
“I was doing my normal rounds at the pool, moving chairs and cleaning up, when I saw a shadow at the bottom of the pool and then I noticed a girl with a worried look on her face,” he recalls. “I knew something was wrong, so I immediately jumped in.”
That shadow was the young girl’s 2-year-old brother.
“I swam to the bottom, grabbed him and pulled him up to the side,” he says with a sense of calm. “I immediately started doing CPR, and after a couple of breaths, he started spitting up water. I didn’t have to do chest compressions. I carried him to his parents and the ambulance came. I’m just thankful I was there.”
And so were the young boy’s parents. First responders believe Spracklen’s quick actions saved the toddler’s life.
“It happened so fast,” says 30-year-old Spracklen. “I’m glad I had a good eye on the pool. The paramedics said any longer and he could’ve suffered brain damage or lost his life.”
Spracklen knew he had made a difference that day, but little did he know his “lucky timing” would be needed again several months later in April.
“I had just clocked in and was walking up to the pool area on the fourth floor, when I heard a Japanese lady screaming, ‘Rescue, rescue,'” says
Spracklen. “When I looked toward the pool, the father had already gotten her out of the water.”
The 3-year-old girl had been in the pool for several minutes. Witnesses say she was blue and not breathing. Spracklen didn’t have time to think.
“I started doing CPR, and after three minutes I started getting tired,” he says with some anxiety. “Thankfully, a guest kept encouraging me to keep going, keep going — and that’s when she starting spitting up water and started breathing again!”
Emergency Medical Services personnel took the child to the hospital, where she made a miraculous recovery. The following morning the Morita family was back at the pool.
“I couldn’t believe when I saw them back at the pool the next day, but this time the dad was really close to her,” says Spracklen.
What happened next touched his heart.
“The little girl walked up to me with a little keychain that she bought for me,” he says with a smile. “And then she gave me the biggest hug. I’m so glad it didn’t ruin their trip.”
According to American Red Cross, more than 200 children drown in swimming pools each year. In recognition of his heroic actions, Spracklen recently was named first runner-up Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year by Hawaii Tourism & Lodging Association at its annual Na Po‘e Pa‘ahana Awards Recognition Luncheon.
“It’s great to have the recognition, and I am glad that event is in place so that people can get rewarded for what they do in the hospitality businesses,” says Spracklen. “Accidents can happen in seconds, and it’s important for parents to keep an eye on their children and, as soon as possible, teach them to swim.”
When asked if he thought he was a hero, Spracklen didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“No, I’m not a hero — it was instinct,” he says humbly. “Hero is a big word. I just happen to be in the right place at the right time, and I’m happy it didn’t go the other way. I’m sure it’s sad for parents to lose a child. We got lucky.”
No, Daniel, you’re just good!