When 10-year-old Jayla Dallis saw her little sister Kali in trouble at their Chamblee apartment complex swimming pool she jumped in to save her without hesitation. Grabbing Kali by the hair and around the waist, Jayla lifted her up and over the side of the pool. Kali, 3, had jumped in the pools shallow end with an inflatable float around her waist. When she hit the water she flipped upside down. Kali struggled and slipped out of the float, gasping for air. After Jayla pulled her from the water the girls aunt and property manager Anthony Swint immediately began performing CPR.
A few miles down the road Sgt. Ed Lyons was checking reports in his car behind the Chamblee police station. It had been a rou-tine day for Lyons and when he heard the call come in for a drowning it immediately caught his attention. “That’s a call you don’t hear very often,” said Lyons. “I just took off straight up the boulevard (Peachtree Boulevard) lights and sirens.”
The first emergency worker on the scene, Lyons was met by a maintenance man and the two ran to the pool where Lyons took over CPR from Swint. Lyons said as he tried to revive Kali he saw his own 6-year-old daughter. “The cute little pink bathing suit, the hair pulled up in a bun on top of her head.”
Three times Kali started to breathe then stopped as Lyons worked on her. Finally, Kali’s heart started beating and she began breathing on her own. Kali was rushed by ambulance to Children’s Healthcare at Scottish Rite. Lyons got off his 12-hour shift at 7 p.m. and was at Scottish Rite by 7:30. It was very important for the veteran police officer to know how Kali was doing. I’ve done CPR before and it wasn’t successful, but this was one time where I saw there was a chance.” The doctors told him it was too soon to tell and Lyons wished the family well, asking them to please update him on Kali’s condition. “I gave them my card and went home. That was a tough night,” he said.
A few days later one of his officers called Lyons and said Kali’s mother, Daneshia Dallis would like to talk to him. She told Lyons that Kali was improving and asked him to come visit her. ‘The doctor came and started listening to her, jostling her around a bit. She woke up and looked right at me,” said Lyons. “That was incredible. I thought there really, really is a chance.” Lyons visited Kali a few more times with balloons and gifts from the police department and got to see her when she was fully awake. After two weeks in the hospital Kali went home and doctors expect her to make a full recovery. The entire incident was captured on the pool’s security camera and Sgt. Lyons’ body camera. He has watched the footage from the security camera but says “the hard part to watch was my body camera, and I haven’t watched all of it.” Lyons did learn after he could bring himself to read the report that he and Kali shared the same birthday, Dec. 26.
Lyons is reluctant to take any credit for his part in helping save Kali that May afternoon saying, “It was not me, it really wasn’t It was her sister, her aunt and Mr. Swint.”
Jayla was recognized by the DeKalb County Commission at their June 11 meeting and the day was declared Jayla Dallis Day in DeKalb. Her school also arranged for Jayla to be presented with her A/B Honor Roll certificate since she had missed the awards cer-emony while Kali was in the hospital.