For two families, this wasn’t a regular Wednesday breakfast.
This breakfast was a celebration of life.
“God brought Officer Matt Olin to us,” said Sara Villasenor of Costa Mesa, her 4-year-old daughter Nina sitting in a chair nearby. “If he wouldn’t have shown up that day, I don’t want to think about what would have happened.”
“Scott May has changed my life forever,” said Barry Waters of Huntington Beach with tears in his eyes. “He is a hero in every sense of the word.”
The 2nd Annual Costa Mesa Police Department Employee Recognition Ceremony was an emotional event.
The Villasenor and Waters families attended because in 2014 Costa Mesa Police Officers saved little Nina’s and Barry’s life.
Field Training Officer Matt Olin and now-retired Officer Scott May were presented “Life Saving” medals by Interim Chief Ron Lowenberg at The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa.
Other award winners were:
- Community Partner of the Year, Target store #1293
- Explorer of the Year, Brandon Jehoich
- Volunteer of the Year, Kay Lima
- Civilian of the Year, Laura Ginther
- Civilian Supervisor of the Year, Kimberlee Guluzian
- Supervisor of the Year, Lt. Ed Everett
- Police Officer of the Year, Jared Barnes
When Officer Olin arrived on the scene last April 28, Nina wasn’t breathing. She had been dragged from her grandfather’s swimming pool. Her skin was gray, and she had no pulse.
Olin performed CPR for what seemed like several minutes.
“You don’t give up,” Olin said. “That was my job, not to give up.”
The girl eventually spit up water and regained consciousness on the way to the hospital. She has completely recovered.
“Every bad day I have is a good day now,” said a grateful Sara Villasenor. “My daughter was gone. And Officer Olin brought her back. Everything happens for a reason.”
Barry Waters, the popular Spanish teacher/coach at Edison High School, felt equally grateful to Officer May.
Waters, 67, was testing out a new boogie board at Bolsa Chica State Beach on August 15, when a wave pushed him head first into a sand bar.
Waters suffered a broken neck. He couldn’t move, and he couldn’t breathe.
May, who was off-duty, was on the beach. He was scouting for waves to go surfing.
May and another man saw a boogie board in the “tombstone” position, meaning it was straight up because it was being held by something below the water.
May raced into the water and helped pull Waters out.
“I’ve lived the life of service,” May said. “We don’t think, we react.”
Waters’ body was so heavy because it was full of water. May was exhausted as he began to do compressions on Waters’ chest on the beach.
In all, six people helped drag and resuscitate Waters that day. Waters has had five surgeries since the incident, but he looked to be in pretty good shape at Wednesday’s breakfast.
Waters said when he was stuck underwater, he said goodbye to each of his family members. Then he talked to God.
“If it is my time, so be it,” Waters remembers thinking.
He saw bubbles from his last breath. Then he passed out.
That’s when May grabbed him.
“This is an emotional day for me,” Waters said at Wednesday’s breakfast. “My life has changed for the better.”
What has he learned from his near-death experience?
“We’ve got to slow down and appreciate everything we have,” Waters said.