When Kerri Cooper heard her dog Lucy barking at the window, she knew in an instant something was wrong. She knows her black Lab-golden retriever’s bark, and the insistence in the dog’s voice told her she needed to see what Lucy was seeing.
When Kerri got to the window, she saw a two-year-old boy walking by himself in the middle of the courtyard in her Oregon apartment complex. He was heading straight for a pond. She called out for him to stop. He turned to look at her, but continued on his path. Kerri didn’t see anyone else around, and knew she had to act.
“By the time I got down the stairs and around the corner, he was already in the water,” she said. “The water was already up to his neck.”
Without a second thought, the fully clothed woman plunged into the glacial pond and pulled the bawling toddler out of the water.
“I’m glad I got there in time. A couple minutes later, he’s under, 100 percent,” Kerri said. “You always think someone’s going to be watching. When I realized I was the only one I knew I needed to step in, no one else.”
She brought the boy to the office of the apartment complex. While waiting for deputies to arrive, the boy’s grandmother came in looking for him. Still completely sodden, the shaken boy clung to Kerri until he saw his grandmother, Rochelle Huegli, whom he smiled and waved at.
“We told her he was in the water, and she was just like ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it. I’m so sorry,’” Kerri explained.
Rochelle had been babysitting her grandson at her apartment while his parents were out. She said she fell asleep and believed he was napping with her.
According to Sgt. David Thompson of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the woman was determined to have been consuming alcohol, which may have accounted for her midday nap. She was arrested under suspicion of first-degree criminal mistreatment and second-degree child neglect.
The boy was returned to his parents, and is unlikely to remember the terrifying experience.
“There is no doubt that due to her attentive dog, and her quick actions, Ms. Cooper saved the life of the young boy,” Thompson said.
Kerri said she has always known that Lucy is intelligent and sensitive, and rewarded her with lots of hugs and praise.