GASTON, Ore. - Strangers who worked together in the blink of an eye saved the life of a 14-year-old boy who went under water while swimming at Henry Hagg Lake, located outside Forest Grove.
The near tragedy happened Saturday afternoon at the Sain Creek Picnic Area.
Kat Hinkle says she was on the shore while her 15-year-old daughter, Tiara Freeman, was out in the water. Near her daughter was a group of boys who had been jokingly yelling for help for hours.
"They were crying wolf all day long," said Hinkle.
At one point Freeman said she heard them saying 'oh my God, help him he's drowning' but wasn't sure if they were still kidding or not.
"I looked over and I saw someone and like his back, so I was like 'is he just joking around?' " she said.
"Then I heard my daughter scream 'call 911!' " said Hinkle.
Freeman and the boy's uncle pulled the teenager out of the water.
"The uncle tried to do CPR but he was too upset," said Freeman.
The mother and daughter wanted to call for help but they didn't have cell service and there were no pay phones nearby. But one man was finally able to get a weak signal.
Still, they realized that any help would arrive too late and that's when Hinkle and a stranger, 24-year-old Nicholas Evans of Beaverton, teamed up to do CPR. Hinkel, who works for the Clackamas County Juvenile Department, is trained in CPR and first aid.
"He made a gurgling sound and the guy said 'I think he's breathing' and I said 'I think that must be my breath coming back' and he said 'let's put him on his side' and then we rolled him over and he made this low moan sound," said Hinkle.
"He looked petrified," said Freeman. "He looked like he woke up from a bad dream."
After a short struggle with his rescuers, the boy calmed down and the crisis subsided. The teen, identified as 14-year-old Shawn Gridley of Beaverton, was initially transported to Tuality Hospital and then later to OHSU for observation. He has since been released from the hospital.
"I'm just glad it turned out the way it did," said Hinkle.
According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the group of boys were doing a contest to see who could hold their breath under water the longest and were doing the 'dead man's float.' They believe the boy was under for about a minute.
Teen Nearly Drowns at Detroit Lake
Also on Saturday, a 15-year-old boy nearly drowned at Detroit Lake, located about 45 miles southeast of Salem along Highway 22.
According to the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Jason Nguyen of Portland was swimming with his 19-year-old brother from Hoover Rock to Highway 22's shoreline when he began to struggle and then slipped under the surface of the water.
A man on the shore, 33-year-old Craig Hemengway of Portland, saw that the boy was in trouble and swam to where he was last seen. He found the teen about six feet under the surface and pulled him to shore. Once there, 33-year-old Tawnya Roozeboom of Salem helped tend to the boy as well.
"Mr. Hemengway and Ms. Roozeboom did not hesitate to get involved when they saw someone in need of help," Sr. Deputy Dave Zahn with the Marion County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. "I applaud their heroic action."
When rescue crews arrived, they stabilized the teen until medics could transport him to the U.S. Forest Service landing pad on the north side of the lake.
Once there, the boy was put into a helicopter and flown to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. His condition is unknown.
In light of what happened, the Marion County Sheriff's Office wants to remind boaters and swimmers to familiarize themselves with the water environment and its potential hazards, to wear a flotation device and to be sure to remain within your personal limits.
Teen Missing and Presumed Drowned in Skagit River
In Washington state, a 13-year-old boy is missing and presumed drowned after he was swept away by the current of the Skagit River in Burlington, officials said.
Police say Joshua Soren, 13, (pictured at right) was wading in the water with a friend Saturday at about 3:30 p.m. when he lost his footing. The strong current sucked him under and swept him downriver, said David Stafford of the Burlington police.
Joshua's friend tried to help him, but he was unsuccessful. An adult who was there dove into the river but was unable to find the boy, Stafford said.
A Skagit County sheriff’s search-and-rescue deputy and sheriff’s boat responded immediately, along with the Skagit County Dive Rescue Unit.
In addition, the U.S. Border Patrol’s Homeland Security and Navy helicopters responded to search from the air. Searches were also conducted along the dikes by Mount Vernon and Burlington police officers.
After several hours, the rescue mission turned into a recovery effort, then was called off at nightfall after Joshua was not found.
Searchers resumed the recovery effort Sunday at 10 a.m. using boats, hovercraft and a K-9 police dog. The search was suspended at about 3 p.m. after they found no sign of the boy.
The search will resume in the coming days using a K-9 dog trained in body detection. Officials are also asking assistance of Homeland Security’s air unit in conducting periodic searches.
Officials said Joshua was wading in the river near the sandy bank off Whitmarsh Road between the Burlington Northern train trestle and the Burlington Boulevard bridge when he went under.