EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s been a deadly few days on Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, with at least six drowning over the weekend. Now a Twin Cities father is telling his survival story.
“When I went down, I felt it was over, because I knew nobody was around,” said Muhammad Javed. ”Very painful. I don’t know how I’m living.”
He’s now recovering at Regions Hospital after nearly drowning last Sunday in Fish Lake in Eagan. He never realized a day fishing with his family could be filled with so much excitement, and for all the wrong reasons.
Javed recalled the frantic moments after his youngest son, Ozzie, jumped in the water for a turtle. The 2-year-old could swim, but his father was still afraid he would drown.
“I went in after him. I jumped in the water,” said Javed, who cannot swim. “I was only splashing, trying to pull the water down with only one hand. I tried to look for the foundation of the dock to pull down on something. Nothing was close.”
Javed’s other son recalled seeing his father’s hand go under water, and then only bubbles. His daughter got scared and ran for help. She found Mark Halberg, who was walking his dog with a friend.
“I was just there at the right time,” said Halberg, who heard the girl scream and ran to the dock.
When he got there, he first found Ozzie.
“He looked in shock, just bobbing. I didn’t think twice. I just grabbed him and got him out of there,” said Halberg. He couldn’t find the boy’s father, who was caught in the weeds below.
“I just jumped in, must have hit his shoulder with my foot, and I went down there, pulled him up,” he said.
A woman in a row boat paddled to the scene, pulled Javed into the boat and brought him to the dock.
“I knew we were in that window. We’ve got to react and do something right now,” said Officer Matt Ondrey with the Eagan Police Department, who showed up, along with Officer Tony Lejcher.
They started CPR on Javed, who was unconscious. Algae and water were preventing him from breathing properly.
“As we were able to get that water and algae out of his nose and mouth, his body takes care of itself,” said Officer Lejcher.
Paramedics rushed Javed to the hospital. While recovering in the hospital bed, he’s recalling his multiple heroes.
“I don’t know. It was a miracle actually,” said Muhammad.
He knows no catch during a day of fishing could ever top this survival story. He said he’ll wear a lifejacket every time he’s near the water now, and he’ll insist his kids do too.