A 4-year-old girl whose life was saved by a Los Angeles firefighter who was vacationing in Hawaii when the girl fell to the bottom of a resort swimming pool was reunited with her rescuer Tuesday in an emotional gathering in Westchester.
Young Sophia Rouse handed firefighter/paramedic Daniel Harris with a floral lei during the reunion at Fire Station 5 in Westchester, while the girl's family hugged him and praised the actions that saved Sophia's life.
"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.
Harris was vacationing in Maui earlier this year and happened to be at the resort where Sophia sank to the bottom of a swimming pool. The girl was pulled unconscious from the water, and Harris administered CPR. Sophia regained consciousness and made a full recovery.
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Johns, who flew to Los Angeles from Hawaii with Sophia and the rest of her family for the reunion, fought back tears as she looked back on the day.
"Every day we think about how our lives would never have been the same had he not been there," she said of Harris.
Harris was presented with a proclamation by LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas recognizing his actions.
"I just don't know the words to say, but I'm happy Sophia's here, because that's the most important thing," Harris said. "You always train and you never know when we're going to have to act."
Terrazas said the episode highlights the fact that firefighters are never truly off-duty.
"You're a firefighter 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and for that we're extremely proud," the chief said.
"The men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department, they do amazing things every day on duty and they do even more incredible things off duty," he said. `"But it's such a great inspirational story for our department... to know that great things happen every day with the Los Angeles Fire Department."