Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

June 13, 2011

Leonard Pope saves child from drowning

6-year-old glad God didn't make him an angel

AMERICUS — Bryson Moore feels a lot better today, and for the first time, he has a hero.

And what Bryson’s hero did for him has replayed nonstop in his mind.

Bryson and his mother Anne will forever be thankful for Leonard Pope.

Bryson, 6, was attending a cousin’s birthday party when he went under in a pool around 7 p.m. Saturday at Troy Hill Apartments located on East Glessner Street.

But before Bryson’s mother could try to save him, Pope dove in and rescued him from drowning.

“I was looking at him because he couldn’t swim,” said Anne Moore. “I noticed, first, he was standing up, and then he went under and never came back up. I started screaming. Leonard was inside, and he came out of nowhere and dove into the water without any hesitation, cell phone in his pocket and all. He saved my son’s life, and I am so thankful that he was there for me and my child.”

Bryson said he wondered if someone was going to save him.

“When my head was going down into the water, and when my head was touching into the water, I got scared,” he said. “I felt (Pope) touching my waist, and then he picked me up, and I came up coughing. I didn’t feel so well.”

Moore said about five children were in the pool when the incident occurred, but out of the 10 to 12 people around the pool, she wasn’t sure if anyone knew how to swim because no one responded to her cry for help, except for Pope.

“He never went unconscious, but in a matter of seconds I knew he wouldn’t be here with me,” she said. “My baby would have died. He was already floating at the bottom of the pool. I was going to just go in and try to get him and take that chance. When I got ready to go in, Leonard dived on in.”

Pope, a tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs, isn’t doing a lot right now with the NFL being in a lockout. A member of the Arizona Cardinals when they played in Super Bowl XLIII, Moore said Pope was an answered prayer.

“The fact that he is normally at camp and could have been in Kansas City just proved to me that he was placed here to save my son from drowning, and I thank God that he was here,” she said. “He truly lived up to his nickname ‘Champ’ because he was truly a champion for me and my son this past weekend.”

Moore said Bryson went into shock after being pulled out of the pool, not speaking for about 30 minutes. He has since told his story to several people, but isn’t sure when he’ll be ready to touch the water again.

“At least three months or later,” he said.

Once he is ready, Moore plans on getting Bryson swimming lessons. But Bryson said that might be a while.

“When I turn nine or something,” he said. “I think I’m too little to take them right now.”

And for now, Moore is just glad to have her son.

“I know he would like to have his autograph,” she said. “The last thing he said that night, he said, ‘I’m glad God didn’t make me an angel.’ I’m glad he didn’t either.”

Marcus Johnson contributed to this story.

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