Scouting skills help save a life

What seemed like a usual after-school night for Brandon Neilson as he headed to Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Santa Margarita, Calif., Dec. 12 to pick up his younger sister Ali from volleyball practice quickly turned into a night of lifesaving.

When Brandon, a 16-year-old member of the Live Oak Canyon Ward, Santa Margarita California Stake, parked and was getting ready to get out of the car to head into the school, he forgot where to go; he had not attended that school, but he had been there before for water polo matches and to pick up his sister from practice. He took a minute to recall where the gym was and how to get there. Then he got out of his car and headed into the school.

As he was passing the pool he heard some commotion. "I thought it was just some kids messing around over by the pool so I kept walking," he said.

But after walking for a few more moments he heard a cry for help and when he glanced over by the pool he saw someone leaning over the pool trying to get something out of the water. He ran over to the pool and felt like he needed to do something to help when he realized there was someone in the pool.

"I went over and I saw a man at the bottom of the pool ... so I took my jacket and shoes off, and I jumped in," he said.

When he was able to pull Jose Louis Mendoza out of the water another person who worked at the school was there on the pool deck. The two alternated performing CPR until rescue workers arrived on the scene.

Brandon, who usually just pulls up to the school while his sister heads out to get in the car, was told that night by his parents to go in and get her instead.

"I definitely think there was some divine intervention and listening to the Spirit," he said.

Brandon has completed the rank of Eagle Scout and with that has earned the life saving and first aid merit badges, which he said helped him remain calm and know what to do.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed