Utah boy, sergeant continue friendship years after rescue from near-drowning

Utah Highway Patrol friendship
Posted at 10:22 AM, Jul 20, 2021

CENTERVILLE, Utah — 8-year-old Coleman Ross shares a strong bond with a Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) sergeant after a terrifying event in 2016.

"[Coleman] has a Highway Patrol hat that hangs above his bed and a Highway Patrol badge that he keeps in his little, special box," said Coleman's mother, Annie Ross.

She credits a UHP Sgt. Chamberlin Neff for helping save Coleman's life after a near-drowning.

"It's not chance. We don't think it's chance that Sgt. Neff happened to be literally around the corner," Annie Ross said.

When Coleman was 3 years old, he was swimming with his cousins in Centerville. He went underwater, and when he came up, the young boy was blue and unconscious.

At the same time, Neff was off duty and driving home and just happened to be listening to the local dispatch.

Within 30 seconds, Neff was helping bystanders revive Coleman.

"It is one of the greatest events that I've ever had, not only in my career but in my life," Neff said.

Last week marked five years since the rescue.

"Coleman is completely fine. He is completely fine. He shouldn’t have been able to be revived and he was revived. He should have had neurological damage and he doesn’t have neurological damage,” Annie said.

After Coleman was released from Primary Children’s Hospital, a deep friendship formed between the sergeant and the boy.

"Coleman is different,” Sgt. Neff said.

For Halloween, Coleman dressed up as Sgt. Neff. They celebrate birthdays together and constantly spending time at the other’s home.

Coleman calls Sgt. Neff his hero.

“He’s nice and kind to everyone,” Coleman said.

"What has been such a tragic thing initially has turned out to be a great positive experience,” Neff said.

Coleman aspires to be a trooper when he grows up so he can help other people.

This story was originally published by Hailey Higgins on Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah.