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Rip Currents Part II: Girl Risks Life to Save Drowning Boy

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Yesterday I wrote about the dangers of rip currents in Michigan. I also provided some important safety tips, including the risk of attempting to save someone from a rip current. Safety officials warn that it is easy to drown while trying to save someone else, since rip currents are very strong and can easily wear a struggling swimmer out. Recently, a Washington state girl jumped in to save a boy caught in a rip current, despite the objections of her father. Thankfully, that story finished with a hopeful ending–but nearly resulted in the deaths of the 12-year-old girl and the boy she was attempting to save.

Charles "Dale" Ostrander was swimming in the turbulent waves of the Pacific when he was lost in the water. As he called for help, 12-year-old Nicole Kissel jumped in the water with her boogie board to attempt to rescue Dale. Nicole reached Dale and placed him on her boogie board and started to paddle towards shore. Dale encouraged her, assuring her to "keep paddling" and that they "were almost there". However, the two were slammed by a wave and were thrashed back under water. Nicole lifted herself back up onto the board, but Dale was lost in the water once more.

As the church group that Dale was with that day watched the scene unfold and prayed for the young child’s life from the shore, Eddie Mendez, a volunteer water rescuer, received the emergency call at his construction day job. He rushed to the beach, changed into a wet suit, and he and his colleague jumped aboard two jet skis. They scanned the area and finally found Dale floating about two feet below the surface of the water. After pulling Dale to shore, EMT worked on the pale-faced and seemingly lifeless boy as they rushed to the hospital where his pulse finally returned. Dale was flown to a children’s hospital in Oregon and his parents prepared for the worst. Nevertheless, miraculously, Dale was eased off of sedatives and opened his eyes the next day. Doctors say that it isn’t very often that someone survives that long in the water and that Dale is lucky. They have warned his parents that he may suffer from severe brain damage and that he will need physical and speech therapy. But for now the family maintains their hope and remains grateful that he survived the frightening and dangerous ordeal.

While Nicole’s attempts to save Dale were heroic, they exemplify the safety tips for dealing with rip currents. They are very dangerous forces of nature that require trained water safety officials. Thankfully, both children made it out alive that day–something that doesn’t always happen in these tragic circumstances.