Bravery and courage are respected qualities in adults, let alone children, but Jessica and Scott Belden of Live Oak demonstrated just that on July 5.
Nine-year-old Jessica and 13-year-old Scott were swimming with their grandmother, Jill Zoppi, at her home in Live Oak Senior Mobile Home Park on Larkin Road, when they noticed a fellow swimmer not return to the surface.
When Luis Gutierrez, 60, who also lived in the park, didn’t come up, the Belden siblings, with direction from their grandmother, swam into the deep end of the pool.
“He was bobbing for awhile like he was practicing holding his breath,” Jessica said about Gutierrez before he didn’t come up.
Together they were able to pull Gutierrez to the surface and to the side of the pool until rescue workers arrived. Unfortunately, paramedics were unable to revive him, despite the children’s efforts.
Jessica and Scott were honored by the City of Live Oak and the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department at the Aug 15th council meeting. Despite the tragedy, the children acted beyond their years according to sheriff J Paul Parker of the Sutter Co. Sheriff’s Department as he awarded them with letters of commendation.
“People often think or hope they would act when presented with these kinds of situations but might freeze up in the moment,” he said. “I’m shocked people this young were able to make a decision and act on it.”
The Proclamation presented by Councilman Rob Klotz on behalf of the City Council, proclaimed Jessica and Scott as invaluable citizens to the city of Live Oak.
“I’m honored and proud to give these proclamations to Scott and Jessica for their fortitude and their ability to move forward when someone was in trouble,” he said as he presented the awards.
Though placed in a frightening situation, both Belden children agreed that despite the outcome they would do it again.
“I raised my kids to help when someone’s in trouble and they did. I am very proud of them, they reacted very well,” John Belden said of his children.
Gutierrez was a new resident of the mobile home park, only having moved in three months prior. He is survived by his sister.