Local woman helps vacationing Missouri boy survive drowning in FL

A freak accident that could’ve easily resulted in a tragedy over the Memorial Day weekend turned into a miracle because of a sister’s keen eyesight, a mother’s response, and the selfless acts of two other women, one of whom lives in the Baton Rouge area.

Missouri residents Collin Kinsey, 6, and his family were on vacation near Pensacola, Florida when he slipped and fell to the bottom of the four-foot pool and couldn’t push himself back up to the surface. 

For his mother, Christen Kinsey, the image of her son floating at the bottom of the water is something she will likely never forget.

“It’s never one of those things you want to do,” she said. “You don’t want to have to pull out your baby who’s not breathing. It’s not a fun experience. We are so thankful it turned out the way it did.”

Collin’s sister alerted their mom that Collin was at the bottom of the pool.

“My daughter is a prankster,” Christen said. “For a split second, I thought she was joking, but I immediately went to the pool. I jumped in and I didn’t see him at the bottom of the pool until I was under water. When I saw him, I started freaking out. My kids drowning had always been a fear of mine, so I just immediately jumped into action.”

Once she reached Collin, Mrs. Kinsey tried to pull him out of the water and although he weighs only 46 pounds, she admitted he was much heavier because he was unresponsive.

Christen’s best friend Bailey Wells, who is a nurse, was on vacation with the Kinseys and once Collin was out of the pool, Wells began administering CPR.

Director of Perioperative Services at Our Lady of the Lake Perkins Surgery Center in Baton Rouge D’Lynn DeBenedetto Jones was also on vacation and on the beach near Collin’s accident.

Jones said she had anticipated staying downstairs on the beach for another hour, but her mother insisted they head back upstairs.

“As soon as we approached the pool, I saw a lady holding a child up and carrying him out the water and the child did not have any color,” Jones recalled. “I saw a man walking behind the woman helping her carry the child and then they laid him on the ground. He was totally unresponsive. I rushed there and started CPR.”

Wells and Jones worked together to revive Collin, although the mission seemed bleak at one point, according to Jones. 

“It was a color that I hadn’t seen before,” she said. “It was a scary, scary situation for myself. When he did his first two gasps, I felt he would pull through. I had never performed CPR on a child before and I hope I never have to do it again.”

Medics arrived after Collin regained consciousness and he was airlifted to a Pensacola hospital, which was about 40 minutes away.

By 8 pm that day, about six hours after the accident, Collin’s lungs were totally clear of fluid. After less than 24 hours in the hospital, Collin was released with a clean bill of health.

Although they were strangers before May 28th, 2022, the Kinsey & Jones families will be linked forever.

“It means more than anything in the world,” Christen Kinsey said. “The fact that she (Jones) came and helped a complete stranger, that she took a chance not knowing what kind of people we are or if we’d be grateful, words can’t express the gratitude we have. God puts people on your path that you need when you least expect it and we’re glad she was on our path.”

“I told her (Kinsey) that he’ll always be my little miracle boy,” Jones said.

Christen said Collin’s accident propelled her to vigilantly promote water safety. She said things ranging from having an adult on watch duty for 15 minutes at time while kids are in the water to picking the right color of swimwear are just two of the many ways to keep children safe in water.

“We thought we were vigilant and did all the right things, but sometimes even if you do all the right things, it may not be enough,” she said. “We wanted to share what God did for us and to raise awareness for water safety. Raising awareness to help people not ever feel how we felt.”


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