Eleven-year-old Connor Fitz-Gerald was playing with friends on the Marina Dunes beach in California when something went terribly wrong.

Alyssa Bostic, a 5-year-old girl, was joyously digging a sand cave during her playtime, and she decided to crawl inside. But while she was standing under the cave, the unthinkable happened as the cave completely collapsed—burying Alyssa from head to toe. She was unable to move or breathe. There seemed to be little hope for her to escape.

Fortunately, within a few minutes time, the 11-year-old boy started digging in the exact spot where Alyssa had just gotten trapped in. Just a few inches into the sand, Connor uncovered Alyssa’s bag, and the horrified boy knew he had to react quickly.

The quick-thinking boy accurately assessed where her head would be according to the location of her bag, and he began burrowing in the sand in that spot. It was a race against the clock, but thankfully Connor had no intention of losing.

Soon, he uncovered Alyssa, who was lying limp and lifeless. The 5-year-old girl was unconscious when he pulled her up onto ground level. Since their parents were at least a quarter-mile away, Connor knew he couldn’t afford to run to them to get help. Seeing Alyssa’s eyes, nose and mouth were clogged with sand, the brave 11-year-old immediately began performing CPR – a maneuver he’d learned from watching television.

His attempt revived Alyssa, and she finally began breathing again. They called 911 when their parents arrived, and the paramedics on scene reported that Alyssa likely would have died if it were not for Connor’s rapid response.

The little girl has since made a full recovery. Connor’s father, Tim Fitz-Gerald, is extremely proud of his actions and is thankful that the situation had a happy outcome.

“I am glad he was able to sit back and go, wait a minute something’s going on, there’s not a parent here, I know they’re at least a quarter mile away, I need to do something,” said Tim Fitz-Gerald.

Connor’s bravery and determination saved a life on the beach that day. His mindset and admirable actions were crucial to this little girl’s survival.