Dad Saves His 2-Year-Old Daughter from Drowning, Recalls Holding Her ‘Limp’ Body and Praying

Matthew and Amy Shortridge are emphasizing the importance of knowing CPR after their toddler Mila wound up in their pool without any floatation devices

<p>Gastonia Police Department/Facebook</p> Matthew Shortridge poses with his daughter Mila

Gastonia Police Department/Facebook

Matthew Shortridge poses with his daughter Mila

Two North Carolina parents are speaking out after their 2-year-old daughter nearly drowned in their pool, but was saved by her father.

During a pool party over Memorial Day weekend, Matthew Shortridge and other adults were watching the pool when his daughter left to have her floaties and life vest removed, the family told ABC News and NBC affiliate WCNC.

While Matthew's wife Amy was in the restroom, Matthew said he turned his head "just for a little while," and during that time, Mila walked back to the pool unattended, he told ABC News. Mila's 10-year-old sister then let out what Matthew described as "blood-curdling screams."

"What I saw blew my mind," he said, noting that he immediately jumped into the pool to rescue his child. "I've never seen anything quite like it. I turned her over and in my hands, I held my 2 1/2-year-old baby's limp, lifeless, blue-gray body."

The father, a nurse anesthetist, then began CPR alongside a trauma code nurse from his hospital and told WCNC that he "began to pray, 'God, please open up the lungs of my child, please let me get some air in her.' "

"I just was shocked that something that severe had just happened when we were all sitting by the pool," Amy said.

"How did I allow this to happen? What was it? How did I not notice my daughter in this pool?" she added. "After seconds go by and seconds feel like minutes that it's not working, she's not breathing, you feel so hopeless." 

Related: Florida Deputy Shatters Window to Rescue 1-Year-Old Trapped in Hot Car Despite Parents' Protests — See the Video

Footage shared by the Gastonia Police Department to X, formerly Twitter, shows the hero dad spring into action by hopping in the pool, grabbing Mila, lifting her to the surface and performing CPR.

Matthew told WCNC that, for a "split second," he thought that his home was going to be a "family of four instead of a family of five."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer​​, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

Then "all of a sudden," Matthew noticed his daughter's eyes open again. "I said, 'Are you OK?' She nodded to me, yes and then she said the greatest words that I could've ever heard her say. She said, 'Daddy,' and I knew then that my baby girl was OK," Matthew recalled.

<p>Gastonia Police Department/Facebook</p> Matthew Shortridge saves his daughter Mila from drowning on Memorial Day weekend

Gastonia Police Department/Facebook

Matthew Shortridge saves his daughter Mila from drowning on Memorial Day weekend

Related: Mom Hears Screams, Sees Son, 4, 'Bobbing Up and Down' in Backyard Pool: 'His Lips Were Blue'

The parents are now emphasizing the importance of making people know how to administer CPR.

"The most important thing is to make sure you know what to do in a situation, to fix the situation," Matthew explained to ABC News. "And, you're okay and to make sure you know what to do to save a life, to have those skills. If you have a pool, even if you don't and you're a parent, it's important to take those CPR classes so that you know what to do in case of an emergency."

Moving forward, Amy told the GPNDC that their new "rule" is to have a parent playing with the children in the water at all times. Per the department, Mila has made a full recovery.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.