Chris Jones says he wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for a man he knew only as “Officer Poole.”
Jones, now 24, has been replaying the tragic day that happened 19 years ago over and over again in his head.
When he was 5 years old, the Columbus, Ohio, native had a near-death experience. That summer, he accidentally slipped into the deep end of a pool at an apartment complex.
Several residents pulled him out of the water, but it wasn’t until police officer James Poole arrived that he was given CPR. The officer – literally – brought him back to life.
“He got me breathing again, my heart going again, the water up and out,” Jones described to CBS News.
Jones said he “blacked out” the majority of that day, but he does remember the words his mom first spoke to him when he woke up in a hospital bed.
“Officer Poole pulled you out,” she said. “He’s the reason you’re here.”
The family tried to get ahold of the officer right away to thank him, but they were unsuccessful.
Years passed, but Jones never forgot the officer’s name.
“He’s my guardian angel here on this planet,” a tearful Jones said. “Without him, I wouldn’t exist.”
So, when Jones happened to see the familiar name pop up on the Columbus Division of Police Facebook page last month, he reached out.
“It has been so many years,” Jones said. “I thought maybe he retired 10 or 15 years prior.”
Sure enough, he found the right guy.
An officer who runs the police department’s Facebook account helped arrange a surprise meeting between the pair.
Poole thought he was doing a story on what it’s like to be a chief learning officer. Little did he know, he was about to meet someone who would change his life – and someone whose life he had changed as well.
Jones said he felt so anxious before the meeting, “It was like a little kid waking up on Christmas.”
Finally, he walked into the room and tapped Poole on the shoulder. “Remember me?”
A confused Poole looked back, “No, sir.”
But as soon as Jones started to explain, something clicked. Poole immediately gave him a big hug.
“Wow,” he whispered.
Jones choked back tears.
“Because of you, I’m still here. Because of you, this 5-year-old little girl is here,” said Jones, pointing to his daughter.
Poole turned, looked at the young girl and smiled, “I was just doing my job, man.”
Copyright 2016 WFMY