18 Seconds

A life is lost in what feels like an instant at the St. Albans pool in Delaware County

Joanie Logan was only three years old, but she had a presence you could not ignore. As smart and confident as she was beautiful, she was the child who people would say is going to be something someday.

Her someday was taken from her on Saturday.

On Memorial Day weekend, in a crowded pool at a private club on the Main Line, with hundreds of people around, Joanie Logan drowned. No one at the St. Albans pool that day and no one in Joanie’s family will ever be the same.

Joanie Logan is the daughter of my nephew Danny and his wife, Katie. I was at their home late Saturday, and I have never before witnessed such unadulterated pain.

I share this horrible story with you because maybe out of tragedy we can all learn something and maybe save the “someday” of another child.

Joanie’s parents were at the pool and lost sight of their daughter for what seemed like a second. Every parent has been there and felt that panic as they search for their child and imagine the worst thing that could happen. For Danny and Katie, the worst thing did happen. Joanie followed some “big girls” to deeper water. When they found her, she was floating in the water.

Later at Bryn Mawr Hospital, through the fog of her shock, Joanie’s mommy heard a doctor say that a child that size can drown in 18 seconds. The next day, Katie Logan stood in the shower and counted slowly to 18. In solitude it seems like an eternity. In a crowded pool with all its distractions, 18 seconds is a flash. A little girl is there and then she is gone.

It is a story with several victims and no heroes; a story with no blame, but a powerful lesson.

Whether on a beach, a crowded public pool or in your backyard, the water that looks so calm and inviting can take your child in the time it takes to make a phone call, run to the bathroom or turn to talk to someone.

You may think you have the time, but sometimes you don’t. The next time you think you do, let this face of an angel remind you that sometimes you only have 18 seconds.

Funeral Mass: Friday, June 3, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 31 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr. Viewing: Thursday, June 2, 2011 after 4 p.m. at Dan & Katie’s residence, 762 Rugby Road, Bryn Mawr. Burial: SS Peter & Paul Cemetery. Donations: In Joanie’s Memory to St. Rita of Cascia’s Shrine, 1166 Broad Street, Philadelphia.

LARRY MENDTE writes for The Philly Post every Thursday. See his previous columns here. To watch his video commentaries, go to wpix.com.