A 10-year-old girl was honored as a hero Friday for saving a 4-year-old boy from drowning off Plum Island.
Colette Crooks of Rowley was swimming at Sandy Point beach last week with friends when she found the boy — identified only by his first name, Cash — floating unconscious in the water and pulled him to shore. She was recognized Friday and awarded a plaque at the Newbury Fire Department.
“In my eyes, I believe she’s a hero; she just saved this kid’s life,” said Lieutenant Jonathan Kelley, who organized the ceremony. “We just wanted to recognize her and her efforts in doing something scary, and her bravery for doing it.”
Crooks met Cash and his older cousin on Sandy Point beach Aug. 7, said Sieglinde Aigner-Crooks, Colette’s mother. While playing in the water, Crooks mistook Cash’s head for a ball floating in the water, but quickly realized it was the unconscious boy.
“He was covered in foam, dark blue, unconscious,” Aigner-Crooks said in a telephone interview Friday. “My daughter was just lucky to be at the right place at the right time. . . . Instead of running away and calling for somebody, she acted right away.”
After being brought to shore, Cash coughed up some water and resumed breathing normally before being taken to a hospital.
“It was very, very nice of them to honor her,” Aigner-Crooks said. “It was very sweet for Colette. She loved the plaque and the flowers.”
Crooks said the ceremony was “awesome” because she got to ride in a firetruck and use the sirens. She spoke at the ceremony, where she urged parents to keep an eye on their children on the beach. “It doesn’t matter how old your kid is, if they can’t swim, don’t leave them at the beach alone,” she said.
“I actually think that anybody could have done it,” Crooks said when asked how she felt about her new title as a hero. “But I’m still really happy that they think that of me.”
Kelley said Newbury police, emergency medical services, and some town administrators were invited to the event, among others.
Crooks’s family — her mother, grandmother, and two cousins — attended the ceremony with her, Aigner-Crooks said.
“She doesn’t see herself as a hero at all,” Aigner-Crooks said, adding, “Everybody knows her now.”