Chelsey Russell: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Chelsey Russell and her two children, in a photo that her law firm shared on Facebook. (Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley)

A young mother saved her toddler’s life by balancing the boy on her chest while dying herself in a Utah lake.

Chelsey Russell, 33, of Denver, Colorado, is being called a hero for giving her life to save her little boy’s.

The tragedy happened when the child accidentally fell off a moving houseboat on Lake Powell in San Juan County, Utah, on August 23, Fox News said.

“She was holding the baby out of the water the best that she could,” the sheriff said, according to UK Mirror.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Boy Was Rescued From His Mother’s Chest Even Though She Was Already Unconscious

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Chelsey Russell. (Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley)

When the 2-year-old boy fell overboard, Chelsey dove in to save him, said Fox News. Russell’s brother, Cayman Hood, stopped the house boat and went to reach his sister and nephew in a smaller boat, said the network.

By the time he arrived, he found Chelsey floating in the lake with the child on her chest. “The conscious child was rescued from atop the mother’s chest, however the mother was unconscious when pulled from the water, according to the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office,” said Fox.

Chelsey’s brother grabbed the boy, who started crying, said The Gephardt Daily.

2. Chelsey Died From a Rare Heart Condition While in the Water

According to The Denver Post, Chelsey died from cardiac arrythmia, and she had suffered from heart problems since childhood.

The Post said Chelsey was a volunteer for the American Heart Association of Denver. “She was a lovely lady who embraced who she was and the challenges she had, and she truly lived a life that recognized she needed to live a healthy lifestyle,” the organization’s former executive director, Sheila Kemper Dietrich, told the Denver newspaper.

Chelsey and the child weren’t wearing life jackets, said UK Mirror.

CPR was administered at the scene, but Chelsey could not be revived, said The Gephardt Daily.

3. Russell Was a Lawyer Who Specialized in Mineral Title Examination & Regulatory Matters

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Chelsey’s Denver law firm, Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley said on its website that she specialized in “mineral title examination, business transactions and regulatory matters before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.”

She previously served as a Judicial Intern for the Honorable Jack Berryhill, 1st Judicial District, Golden, Colorado as well as a Legal Intern for the Honorable C. Jean Stewart, Denver Probate Court, Denver, Colorado.

The law firm said she was born and raised in Denver. “After graduating with a BSBA in General Business from the University of Denver, she worked her way from land associate to landman for a local oil and gas exploration and development company,” said the website, adding that, “Ms. Russell did land work in Colorado (Piceance Basin), Oklahoma (Woodford Shale), and Texas (Barnett Shale).”

4. Chelsey Was Recently Divorced, Had Two Children & Was a Legal Blogger

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Ben Russell with the couple’s two children. (Facebook/Ben Russell)

The Denver Post said Chelsey was recently divorced from her husband, Ben, and about to move into her dream home.

Her daughter, Hayden, was born three days before she took her law exam, said WMAZ.

Russell’s law firm said in a statement, “Chelsey was an amazing mother, an exceptional legal talent, an extraordinary athlete, a loyal and generous friend, and left us all better for knowing her. She is sorely missed.”

The law firm’s website said Russell received her JD from the University of Denver in 2011, “where she was a contributor to the Race to the Bottom Blog, a nationally recognized student/faculty collaborative corporate governance blog.”

Chelsey’s blog posts are titled things like: “Who Determines What Constitutes a ‘Reasonable Offer to Lease’ When it Comes to Involuntary Pooling? Another Example of Local Governments Attempting to Assert Control.”

5. Russell Ran Marathons & She Was the Daughter of a Well-Known Optometrist

Don Hood

Chelsey’s father, Don Hood. (Don Hood obituary/

The tragedy occurred on an 186-mile lake that borders Arizona and Utah, said UK Mirror. The law firm added: “Ms. Russell is actively involved in her community and enjoys running marathons, hiking, skiing, and spending time with her family.”

Russell’s father, Don Hood, was a prominent optometrist who died in 2012. Don Hood’s obituary said, “He enjoyed leading his family on memorable adventures, including camping, canoeing, exploring remote canyons, hut skiing, and captaining the Night Air on open ocean voyages. He embraced life through their world travels and through volunteering eye care services directly to the less fortunate.”

A retired judge for whom Chelsey interned told WMAZ, “She was a marathon runner, a spin instructor, mountain biker, water skier, snowboarder, I mean, she was very outdoorsy.” The station said Russell was a triathlete.