Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 | 2 a.m.
North Las Vegas resident Darren Hardin was putting his garbage cans away in his backyard on a mid-July day when he heard a yell from two homes away.
At first he thought it was a burst of joy from a family at play, but then he heard another one that gave him pause. Something was wrong.
Hardin hopped two fences to reach his neighbor’s home, where 2-year-old Ellianna Ramirez lay unconscious after drowning in the backyard pool. She was no bigger than a doll, Hardin’s wife, Angel, recalled.
The family was helpless, but Hardin, who has been certified in CPR for 15 years, sprang into action. Shortly after, Angel, who is also trained in CPR, said she heard shouts for help and sprinted to the home. For five minutes going on forever, the duo administered CPR to Ellianna.
Then just as emergency personnel arrived — Ellianna began to cry.
“When we heard crying, I knew she was OK,” Angel Hardin said. “When we saw her that night, she spent the night at the hospital, and there was no brain damage, we had a sigh of relief.”
Two months later, North Las Vegas officials introduced the two families in a stirring city council meeting on Wednesday. Darren and Angel Hardin were presented with certificates for their life-saving heroics. For Darren, the moment was unnecessary.
He says he and his wife did what anyone would do, but to the teary-eyed family clutching their 2-year-old daughter, it was clear they weren’t just anyone.
“I look at it like this,” Hardin said. “I said I was just at the right place at the right time. There are a lot of people who would’ve done the same thing.”
An emotional Mayor Shari Buck recounted that day’s events. Darren Hardin fought back tears as he kissed his wife and blew kisses to the family seated in the back.
He said he has known the family for many years. Ellianna’s parents, Johnny Ramirez and Chelsea Gonzalez, are like family to him. That day is still full of emotion for him.
“Every time I start talking about it, I tear up a little bit because it was scary,” Darren said. “But all the training you have, it clicks.”
Both Darren and Angel were the perfect people to find Ellianna. Darren works as a Metro Police correctional officer and Angel works as an ultrasound operator for various cardiologists. Their training prepared them for immediate action.
“The one thing I hope is everybody learns CPR … because you never know when you'll have to use it,” Angel said.
Later Ellianna's family was called up. The toddler clutched a fuzzy brown stuffed bear with a yellow ribbon pinned to its chest. They all embraced sharing long hugs and kisses on the cheek. Then the family presented Angel and Darren with the bear as a gift.
Darren said the recognition was nice, but for him and his wife, just seeing Ellianna alive was all the reward he needed.
The city council also recognized North Las Vegas Police officer Mario Olsson for saving a shooting victim’s life on April 9.