OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Fire Department had a new chief for the day on Monday in 7-year-old Mason Farr, a pint-sized hero who saved his aunt from drowning at a resort water park earlier this summer.
Farr was feted at the Ocean City Fire Department headquarters on 15th Street on Monday morning for his amazing rescue of his aunt, Jenny Mama, at the Jolly Roger water park back on May 25. Mama broke her neck while going down a Splash Mountain water slide and ended up face down in the pool at the bottom, unable to move her arms and legs and taking in copious amounts of water when Farr jumped in and pulled her head out of the water and held her until help arrived.
On Monday, Farr and his family, including Aunt Jenny, along with a bevy of his young friends, were given a tour of the Ocean City Fire Department headquarters on 15th Street. Farr received a Certificate of Appreciation, a fire hat and a badge and was named honorary fire chief for the day. The young hero also met the firemen and paramedics who responded to save his aunt.
On a warm, early summer day in late May, Farr and his family were enjoying the water park at Jolly Roger when he was able to coax his aunt, Jenny Mama, into joining him for a ride. Farr went down first and waited for his mother, Karen, and Aunt Jenny to come down behind him. A somewhat reluctant Mama got on the tube and headed down the water slide behind Farr who was now waiting at the bottom. Mama said she bounced down the slide, hitting her head on different occasions, before a potential disaster struck near the end of the ride.
“I get on the tube and it doesn’t have any handles and I’m flailing and banging my head,” she said. “I get about three quarters of the way down and reach the last whip when I hear this ripping or tearing sound. I thought ‘oh my God, I think I broke my neck.’”
Mama said she was motionless in the pool at the bottom of the water slide. She couldn’t move and was unable to lift her head from the water. She remained conscious and recalled feeling her life slipping away.
“I couldn’t feel anything,” she said. “I couldn’t move my head or my arms or legs, but I was aware. I thought I was going to die. My arms and legs wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get my head out of the water.”
Just when all seemed hopeless, Mama got an intervention from an unlikely source.
“I remember taking five gulps of water,” she said. “I remember thinking about how many gulps it would take me to drown, when all of the sudden, somebody picked me up and was holding me up. It was Mason. He said ‘I got you Aunt Jen.’ I couldn’t believe this little guy, who is only 7 years old, jumped back in the pool and picked me up. He saved my life.”
Mama said Farr, who attends Ocean City Elementary School, grew up around the water and was comfortable in the situation despite his young age.
“He’s a great swimmer,” she said. “He knows enough about swimming to get somebody’s head out of the water when they are in trouble.”
Mama said the Ocean City Fire Department and paramedics responded and she was quickly on a back board and on her way to Shock Trauma in Baltimore.
“In what seemed like a couple of seconds later, the paramedics were there and I was on a board,” she said. “All heck was breaking loose. The Ocean City firemen and paramedics were there and the next thing I knew, I was on a helicopter heading for Shock Trauma.”
Mama spent five weeks in the hospital and had operations to repair her broken neck including the placement of a plate and fusion of vertebrae. She is walking and going about her life, but continues to have numbness in her hands and goes to rehabilitation and physical therapy. She had high praise for her young hero on Monday.
“Even before all of this, he was my special little man,” she said. “I’ll never be able to repay him.”
Mama also had high praise for the paramedics and firefighters who responded quickly and stabilized her before loading her onto a helicopter for Shock Trauma.
“They did all the right things,” she said. “If they didn’t do everything just right, I would have been a paraplegic. I could have been in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, but God had another plan.”
Ocean City Firefighters Union President Ryan Whittington led Farr and his young friends on a tour of the firehouse on Monday. Farr and his friends also got a tour of an Ocean City ambulance and a primer on lifesaving techniques. Whittington praised Farr for his quick thinking that saved his aunt’s life.
“Such a young child was able to determine that someone needed help, sprang into action and prevented his aunt from drowning,” he said. “Mason is an example that heroes come in all sizes.”