MEDFORD — Emanuele Trapella and his daughter, Sky, 12, almost didn’t make it into Wright’s Pond that sweltering, hot day Aug. 17.
The elder Trapella, 40, had forgotten his pass to the residents-only community beach in Medford, but pleaded his case at the gate.
Looking back, he said he was glad he was shown some leniency.
Later that day, the father-daughter pair helped pull an unresponsive 3-year-old girl from the water before lifeguards resuscitated her on the sand. The Trapellas were among five people honored by Mayor Michael J. McGlynn at a ceremony on the pond Friday, where he presented keys to the city for the group’s heroic efforts.
“Nobody panicked; everything went like clockwork,” said McGlynn, speaking a few yards from where the rescue took place.
“I am so, so grateful that you were here,” said Michael Ghubrelul of Medford, father of Semrawit Ghubrelul, the 3-year-old who nearly drowned. Ghubrelul thanked the rescuers for his daughter, who he said was still too scared to return to the water.
At the ceremony, Trapella said he felt lucky to have been let into the secluded pond, where he has accompanied his three daughters many times before. Trapella said he wanted to make the most of the weekend, one of only two per month he gets to spend with his girls.
After a brief discussion to get past the gate, Trapella perched the family on the warm sand on a far end of the beach.
Sky and her friend Sofia Bendok, who was 10 at the time, went into the swimming area to splash around, hold their breath, and peer underwater to look for marine life. The beach features about 200 yards of sand, a swimming area about 100 yards long by 15 yards wide, and two towering lifeguard stands.
When the two ducked their head below the surface, instead of finding fish, they saw another girl near the bottom. At first, nothing seemed amiss.
“The girl was blowing bubbles,” said Sofia, now 11. “She looked fine. I came up from the water, then Sky said, ‘I don’t think [the other girl] came up for air.’ ”
Curious, the two looked again.
“She was on her back, and her eyes were open a little bit,” recalled Sofia. The little girl’s legs were bent toward her chest as she floated limp at the bottom.
Quickly, the girls pulled the motionless body from the pond and clambered up the beach.
“When I saw them with a lifeless child in their arms, I cried out,” said Emanuele Trapella.
Soon, two lifeguards who were on duty — Jackson Xavier and Desiree Savoia — whipped into action and began CPR; one, then two rounds of chest compressions. The lifeguards also used a special facemask and began pumping air into the child’s lungs.
By the time police and rescue workers arrived, the girl already had spat up water from deep in her lungs as life returned to her tiny body.
She and her mother — who watched nearby in shock — were transported to the hospital as a precaution. Both have been released and have fully recovered.
“Everyone helped my daughter,” Ghubrelul said. “Because of that remarkable work, my daughter is here.”