Oklahoma City pool rescue is a reminder of safety's importance

One swimming pool rescue has reminded an Oklahoma City family of the good will among teenagers. For others, it's a reminder that poolside safety should be a top priority as the summer months roll on.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: July 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm •  Published: July 17, 2012

J.R. Kalmeyer was attempting to land the basketball dunk of all ages — from atop the plastic water slide, through the legs and into the miniature hoop mounted on the side of his friend's swimming pool wall — when it happened.

His feet lost their grip on the wet plastic as his body surged forward, and instead of slamming the ball home, the Oklahoma City 14-year-old planted his face onto the concrete pool deck below.

A week later, his parents said the story is a reminder of the importance of swimming pool safety, and it is a reminder of the good will among teens.

“Too often there's so many stories of kids that are getting into trouble. This is something that affected my family personally, and these kids were heroes,” said Steve Kalmeyer, who with his wife, Debbie, thanked nearly a dozen neighborhood kids with a pizza party Tuesday.

The accident

The accident happened the afternoon of July 11, when Steve and Debbie were away from home and their son was swimming at a friend's house down the street.

The water slide was positioned on one side of a corner of the pool, with the top “launching” area situated about three or four feet from the pool's edge.

The hoop was on the other side of the corner, about five or six feet down from the corner.

J.R.'s dunk would have come from the side of the backboard.

J.R. doesn't remember much before his ill-fated move, but it wasn't his first jump from the slide, said his friend, Cole Daniel, also 14.

“He was doing front flips and back flips before he even fell,” Cole said.

“He said this is the last one. It took me a second to digest it all, and then I heard him yell and jumped in.”

It wasn't J.R. who snapped Cole from his shock, but another friend, Doss Merrell, 13.

“You could hear his head hit,” he said of J.R.'s face plant. He watched as momentum bounced his friend, unconscious, right into the pool. “When he started sinking, that's when I started yelling,” Doss said.

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