Muscatine police officer saves child from drowning

MUSCATINE, Iowa—On Saturday, Feb. 29, Kimberly Floyd and her son and daughter looked forward to having fun at a friend’s birthday party at the AmericInn in Muscatine. The three enjoyed themselves until they noticed something going terribly wrong. Floyd saw her friend, Kassy Perez, pulling an unresponsive boy out of the pool.

Once Perez had Kaysen Simonsen out of the pool, another party guest, off-duty Muscatine Police Officer Whitni Peña, sprang into action. Peña performed CPR on Kaysen for three to four minutes before he regained consciousness, while her friends Kory Middagh and Kristy Jones assisted her. Afterwards, the Muscatine Police and Fire Departments arrived and transported him to the hospital, where he recovered quickly. “He made it—he’s out of the hospital and made a full recovery,” Floyd shared.

Reflecting back on the situation, Peña felt grateful for the CPR training she received from the police department, and the presence of mind it gave her in such a challenging situation. Though she had, “never been the first point person to start CPR,” experiences she had assisting others helped her know what to do to save Kaysen’s life.

Perez, agreed, crediting Peña’s quick actions and the help of Middagh and Jones for turning around a difficult situation. “We had several people there who knew CPR and could keep calm. We had everyone we needed to save him.”

Following Kaysen’s recovery, his parents contacted Peña to thank her for saving their son and acting, in their words, as his “guardian angel.” “After the fact, the mother of the child reached out to me and was very, very, thankful,” said Peña.

To further honor her for her lifesaving act, the Muscatine City Council plans to present an award to her at an upcoming meeting. Currently, the Council has not announced a date for the ceremony.

Because of the help of many friends and Peña’s quick thinking, Kaysen’s story has a happy ending. To help keep other children stay safe in the pool, Perez shared that everyone needs to stay vigilant. “I hope that people understand that drowning is very quiet,” she explained. “If you’re not paying attention, it can happen very quickly.”