Matt ByrneEmanuele Trapella and his daughter, Sky(cq), 12, almost didn't make it into Wright's Pond that day.
It was a sweltering afternoonAug. 17, and the elder Trapella, 40, of Medford, forgot his pass to the residents-only community beach, but pleaded his case at the gate.
Looking back, he said he was glad for the leniency.
Later that day, the father-daughter pair helped pull an unresponsive 3-year-old girl from the water, before life guards resuscitated her on the sand. They were among five citizens honored by Medford 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 clock-work," 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, who represented the family at the ceremony, 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. Trappella 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 at 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 man-made 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," recounted Sofia. The little girls' legs were bent toward her chest, floating limp at the bottom.
Quickly, the girls pulled the motionless body from the pond and clamored 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 guards retrieved a special face mask and began pumping air into the child's lungs.
By the time police and rescue workers arrived, the girl had already spat up water from deep in her lungs, the life returning to her tiny body.
She and her mother -- who watched nearby in shock -- were transported to the hospital as a precaution, and both have been released and have fully recovered.
"Everyone helped my daughter," Ghubrelul said. "Because of that remarkable work, my daughter is here."