ANTIOCH -- Spc. Ryan Sealey isn't a hero, he says; he was just in the right place at the right time.
But in the seconds it took him to reach a little girl who was unresponsive after being underwater for roughly five minutes on April 27, Sealey turned a potential tragedy into a personal triumph.
On Wednesday, the Antioch Police Department recognized Sealey for his quick thinking and courageous efforts, which ultimately helped save the little girl's life.
"What you did, I can't even imagine," Antioch police Chief Allan Cantando said, struggling to hold back tears. "Thank you."
Sealey, a 26-year-old Antioch resident who served a tour in Iraq with the Army in 2010 and has since joined the National Guard, was stoic as he stood by Cantando.
He cracked a smile, however, when he heard the 4-year-old girl was fully recovered and back in preschool.
The girl has not been identified by police. Officials said Wednesday that her family did not wish to be interviewed.
"I am not trying to be praised or looked at as magnificent," Sealey said. "This rescue was a collective effort, and we were able to help. It was a bad day, but (ended as) a good day."
Sealey, who works out at In-Shape Sport for 2 to 3 hours every day, was just about to leave on that Saturday when he saw a crowd gathered in the pool area.
He asked what was going on and was told a little girl had just been pulled from the water by Antioch resident Carl Carey, 24, who had come to the fitness center to go swimming with his 3-year-old son.
Though Carey attempted to revive the young girl, she remained unconscious.
By the time Sealey got there, the girl's father was crying and praying, and her mother was sobbing but repeatedly saying, "I will not give up" as she tried to perform CPR on her daughter, according to Carey.
Sealey jumped in, saying he was a trained medic from the Army, and after just a few rounds of compressions, the little girl coughed and began breathing on her own.
"It was kind of a shock," Sealey said as he reflected on the experience. "You never think something like that is going to happen. This was a collective effort, and I was just the one who was there when she started breathing. It could have been anyone else."
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-945-4782 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.