Teen recalls near-drowning experience ten years later

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It has been ten years since a 9-year-old girl nearly drowned in a pool inside the Jorgensen YMCA in Aboite. Kellee Jackson is just a few months shy of her 20th birthday. She wanted to share her story of survival and recovery.

“We would celebrate January 3rd as a second birthday,” said Jackson. “That was just a big monumental moment for my family.”

Jackson remembers swimming with her brother and sister at the YMCA but after that her memory draws a blank.

On January, 3 2008, just before 3 p.m., Jackson was found at the bottom a pool. According to police, lifeguards pulled her from the water and performed CPR.

She was reportedly breathing and had a pulse when medics took her to the hospital. Upon arrival to the emergency room Jackson’s mother, Nancy Perry, said she was pronounced dead.

The family kept her on life support, she said. A few hours later they said something miraculous happened.

She woke up.

“They didn’t even think I was going to make it to 10-years-old and I made it to 20,” said Jackson. “It’s not necessarily a trauma to me. It’s the day I came to my faith.”

She said while she was unconscious and on life-support she had an out-of-body experience. That experience is what brought her closer to God.

“I saw the light,” she said. “I was sitting on the clouds seeing my family mourn over my body. I said to Him, I didn’t want to be the cause of any type of pain like that ever again.”

Perry said her daughter spent about three hours on life-support. Her feelings during that time are difficult to describe.

“The only word I can maybe kind of grasp is despair,” said Perry. “It is such an empty void and you are so helpless. There’s no word.”

When Jackson woke up, Perry said her daughter told her the story about her visit to Heaven.

“She says I went to heaven. I sat on Gabriel’s lap. My dog that died ran to me, and I saw my ancestors,” she said. “What 9-year-old would say that?”

Jackson endured months of physical therapy before she was able to return to school. Although, the process was difficult at the time, she considers herself one of the lucky ones.

“I only lost a little bit of my lung and a little bit of my voice but,” she said. “But I’m here.”

She is now a high school graduate who is working two jobs and looking ahead to the future.

“I wouldn’t have gotten through it without the prayers, or my teachers that stayed after school with me catching me up,” she said “I just wanted to say thank you to everyone, that I don’t even know, just in general,” she said. “All the police officers, all the paramedics, thank you for giving me those prayers.”

Jackson has kept a journal of her life experiences and plans to write a book someday. She hopes her story will be an inspiration to others.

“I’ve gone through a lot of struggles in my life and yet I am still here and I am still standing,” she said. “I want to bring that faith that I have in God and the faith I have in people, to the people that need it.”