Julia Taylor was playing in an apartment complex pool with her son and their friends Tuesday afternoon when a friend pointed out a dark shape at the bottom of the pool.
Taylor, the closer of the two, stuck her foot out to touch it and immediately realized what it was: the body of 6-year-old Jah'Quez Smith Hamilton.
"My foot swiped over his shirt," Taylor said Wednesday. "I immediately scooped him up."
Taylor handed the boy to her fiance, David Eggers, who laid him on the ground so Taylor, a day care employee, could perform CPR. "I kept pumping all the water out, but I couldn't get a pulse," she said.
First-responders arrived at Brackenbrook Apartments within minutes of receiving the 4:30 p.m. call. The North Charleston firefighters and Charleston County EMS paramedics continued performing CPR and rushed the boy to a hospital. Jah 'Quez was pronounced dead minutes later. The cause of death was ruled as drowning, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Bobbi Jo O'Neal said .
North Charleston police say the boy was at the pool with a woman, a nonrelative who was watching him for the day.
Taylor and friend Amber Ghassemzadeh said the boy already was in the pool when they arrived. They said the woman watching him was next to the pool.
In a sad coincidence, Ghassemzadeh, who recently moved from Charleston to Atlanta, said she was in town this week to attend the funeral of her best friend's nephew, 18-month-old Logan Holladay. Logan drowned last week after he fell into a goldfish pond.
The deaths of the two children are part of a recent rash of drownings in the Lowcountry. There have been five in the last month and four in the last week, including the death of 59-year-old Guy Stamps, who drowned Wednesday morning when he fell into a pool at the Spring Valley Mobile Home Park in Hanahan, authorities said.
Three of the five drownings involved children 7 years old or younger.
A police report on Tuesday's drowning said the woman watching the 6-year-old told investigators she watched the boy circling around the pool while holding onto the sides. She told police that moments later she looked into the pool and didn't see him. She said she went to the bathroom to look for the boy and when she came back, he was on the ground being helped.
Taylor said she instructed the woman to talk to dispatchers while she continued CPR. Ghassemzadeh said she held onto the boy's hand and prayed.
"All I was doing was praying. I was praying to God, 'Please don't let this happen,' " Ghassemzadeh said. "I can't even tell you the last time I prayed, but I prayed."