Girl, 10, Who Saved Her Little Sister from Drowning Opens Up About Rescue: 'I Just Went for It'
A 10-year-old girl from Atlanta who heroically saved her little sister from drowning in a swimming pool is being praised for her swift actions on national television.
Nearly one year after the dramatic rescue, Jayla Dallis is still being celebrated for jumping into the pool and pulling her then-3-year-old sister Kali to the surface after she was submerged underwater for nearly two minutes.
Jayla, who was previously named a “County Hero” by Chamblee City Council and given an official day in her honor, will now be recognized on The Steve Wilkos Show‘s “Steve’s Hero Moments” segment, which coincides with the show’s 2,000th episode celebration.
Speaking about the rescue in a preview clip shared with PEOPLE, Jayla tells Wilkos her instantaneous reaction was nothing more than a natural instinct.
“It was a feeling, ’cause I saw her and so I just went for it and got her out,” she tells the host on the episode, which will air Tuesday.
The Dallis sisters were enjoying a day of swimming at their apartment with a relative on May 17, 2019, when the terrifying incident — which was captured on video — went down.
After Jayla successfully pulled Kali from the water, she began performing CPR on her sister, which she learned from social media and watching movies. Eventually, emergency personnel responded and transported the child to a hospital.
Kali, now 4, remained at the hospital for 14 days — a majority of which were spent in the Intensive Care Unit — as her mother Daneshia Dallis and sister remained by her side.
For Dallis, those days were incredibly traumatizing, she reveals on the upcoming milestone episode.
“Seeing Kali helpless [in the hospital] was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dallis recalls. “She was just lifeless, I was devastated. There was a tube connected to every part of her body. She had IVs in her neck, her arms, her legs, her groin, everywhere.”
“They didn’t know the extent of the damage until after a couple days,” she continues. “She couldn’t move, she couldn’t do anything, and seeing her not being able to possibly make it through the night, through the next day or the next week was very hard. I was very, very, very scared.”
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After 11 days in the ICU, Kali finally gained consciousness — a moment that Dallis says has been ingrained in her mind ever since.
“When she finally woke up after 11 days, she woke up and she said, ‘Mommy!'” she says. “And no amount of money in the world could be given to me to just be able to hear her say ‘Mommy’ again.”
Despite doctors telling her that Kali was suffering from a “brain injury” that would require an extensive recovery process after her release from the hospital, Dallis says she is confident her little girl will be okay moving forward.
“Kali is a fighter, Kali always is strong, determined,” she explains. “No matter what, she’s gonna do it. She’s gonna make everything happen.”
Adds the grateful mother: “I’m thankful that Jayla was there to save her sister.”
The two-part milestone 2000th episode of The Steve Wilkos Show airs on Monday, Feb. 24 and Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. ET on PIX11.