When 19-year-old James Luli of Rootstown pulled 3-year-old Dylan Diblik from the Cuyahoga River Monday night, another man was standing by to help provide first aid until paramedics arrived.
"I said to one of my friends, 'God works in mysterious ways,' " said Danny Ross, 41, of Kent, who performed first aid on Dylan after Luli pulled the boy from the river. "He had the young guy there to pull him from the river, and He had me there to do the first aid."
Dylan was walking with his mother, Laura Diblik, and his grandparents, Roy and Ruth Orndorff when a car careened onto the sidewalk and into the family.
Dylan was propelled over the bridge and was pulled from the water by Luli. His mother was pinned under the car and remains in the intensive care unit of Akron City Hospital, listed in serious condition.
Dylan's grandparents were not injured.
Ross, a mail carrier in the Kent post office, was walking under the bridge with his girlfriend, Tiffany Jennings, when he said he saw the two light poles fall into the water and saw Dylan go over the top of the bridge. He said he didn't know there was an accident on the bridge.
By the time he and Jennings reached the shore, Luli was already in the river pulling Dylan out. Luli then handed the boy to Ross, a certified lifeguard who teaches swimming classes in Akron.
While Jennings and a friend went up to the bridge to flag down rescue workers, Ross said he immediately wrapped Dylan in his jacket to bring his body temperature up and held the boy, who was shaking violently, to keep him from hitting his head. Dylan was bleeding from his mouth but had no broken bones, he said.
He said the shaking, which he compared to an epileptic seizure, was probably due to the shock of the accident.
Dylan's grandfather came down the steps a few minutes later, told bystanders the boy's name, and asked who pulled the child from the water. Luli said he did.
While police and Roy Orndorff thanked Luli for his efforts, Ross slipped into the background.
"I just went to my car and prayed for 10 minutes for the little guy," he said, adding he would like to get in touch with Dylan's family. "I want to do something for the little guy. He deserves it."
Ross said he came forward only at the urging of friends, but said he does not think of himself as a hero.
"I'm just glad I was there and had the skills to help," he said.