Cop Reunites With Man He Rescued From Drowning 19 Years Ago: 'Because of You, I'm Still Here'
An Ohio man who owes his life to the cop who rescued him from drowning nearly 20 years ago surprised the officer as the two shared an emotional reunion Friday.
Office James Poole thought he was being invited to speak about his position for cadets at the Columbus Police Academy when he arrived at the facility with notes in hand.
But he didn't expect an unfamiliar face to tap him on the shoulder partway through the on-camera interview.
"Do you remember me?" the man asked Poole. "About 1997, you pulled a 5-year-old out of a swimming pool, saved his life."
Immediately, the pair embraced, as if they had known each other forever.
With tears streaming down his face, Chris Jones told Poole, "because of you, I'm still here," as Jones' own 5-year-old daughter watched."
Jones told InsideEdition.com that although he was only 5 years old when it happened, he remembers his near-death experience as if it were yesterday.
"There was like 20 of us. We went to some pool, either a hotel or apartment complex. There was no lifeguard," he recalled.
He said the pool was overcrowded, so he decided to jump into the other end of the pool, not realizing it was the deep end.
"I kept going down, down, down," he said. "I finally hit the bottom. I look up, and I started to panic. I was flailing my arms trying to get back up, holding my breath."
From then on, Jones said he came in and out of consciousness before waking up in a hospital room.
Even at a young age, he knew clearly that he owed Officer Poole his life.
Despite not being in touch with the officer in the years to come, Jones said he recently saw a Facebook post that featured a familiar name.
Curious, Jones then commented: "I had an Officer Poole save me once when I drowned in 96/97. Wonder if that's him."
Immediately, officers were in touch with him and conjured a plan for the two to meet.
"It was surreal," Jones said. "I was nervous. I really wanted to cry but I was trying my hardest not to cry. It took me 20 years. I never thought I'd meet this man."
But now, Jones told InsideEdition.com that he's motivated to follow a career in law enforcement with the Columbus Police Department: "He's exactly the kind of officer I want to be, the ones that are doing good."