Mom warns parents to be vigilant after 13-year-old paralyzed by pool accident

A 13-year-old was paralyzed after an accident at a pool in North Dakota.
A 13-year-old was paralyzed after an accident at a pool in North Dakota.(Saunda Cheek)
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 7:00 PM EDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR/Gray News) - A North Dakota mother is imploring parents to be extra vigilant this summer after a teen she was supervising was left paralyzed at a pool.

It was supposed to be a day of fun when Saunda Cheek brought her children and their friend, 13-year-old Lillyana, to a pool party at Ramkota in Bismarck in April.

“Everything was normal, and kids were swimming, having fun,” Cheek told KFYR. “I was walking by the slide and I saw Lillyana standing up on the slide.”

All of a sudden Lillyana dove off of the slide, straight down into three feet of water, Cheek said. After the impact, Lillyana was floating face down in the water.

“I know she can’t hold her breath that long. So, I lifted her head and right away, I could see the fear in her eyes,” Cheek said. “And she was like, ‘I can’t move.’”

The 13-year-old was airlifted to a hospital and placed on a ventilator. While she has made great strides over the past two months, she still remains completely paralyzed on the right side of her body.

“A lot of guilt, you know, for being the one responsible at that time,” Cheek said.

Cheek is now raising money to help the family. Lillyana’s mom already works three jobs.

“She’s not even going to be able to bathe her at home because her wheelchair is not going to be able to make it into the shower,” Cheek said. “And a shower chair cannot even fit in their bathtub. So, she’s already trying to make arrangements to take her to hotels, you know, just to bathe her.”

As the weather heats up, Cheek implores all parents to have a pool safety chat with their children and always watch them in the pool.

“Things like this can happen in a matter of seconds, and it can change a lot of lives,” Cheek said.

To donate to Lillyana’s recovery, visit her GoFundMe Page at: https://gofund.me/fd66ed5b.

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