WAITE PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — Saturday’s hot and humid weather was perfect for the quenching relief of a cool quarry pit.
But at Stearns County’s Quarry Park and Preserve in Waite Park, there are no lifeguards. Swimmers at the park do so at their own risk.
Explains Nathan Sisk of Foley, “I went out there with my three kids and my girlfriend and went there to swim for the day.”
Sisk was in the water when he heard a mother’s chilling cries. He quickly went over to the woman to ask about her missing child.
“The first thing you learn is to stay calm in those situations,” says the Air Force-trained emergency response specialist.
Sisk kept his cool and ordered everyone out of the small quarry lake. He then asked for a show of hands to identify the best swimmers who quickly began searching.
Said Sisk, “If you’re a strong swimmer, step up, and their hands went up.” When asked how many he recruited, Sisk says, “Probably a half dozen stepped up and said I can swim.”
Joanna Nunez, graduate student at the University of Minnesota was among the volunteers.
Recalls Nunez, “It was powerful to see people drop everything and clear the beach to get into the water.”
Within minutes, Jason Weber of Elk River surfaced from the waters with the young 4-year-old girl cradled in his arms. She’d been underwater five to 10 minutes, was not breathing and exhibited no pulse.
Others in the area immediately began CPR, continuing the life-saving efforts until police and paramedics arrived on the scene.
“Myself and my friends who were there were just completely in tears at the moment and we couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the day,” said Nunez.
The child, identified as Hazel Mariah Dobbs of St. Cloud, was rushed to the St. Cloud hospital.
On Monday, the child remained in critical condition, however, her mother says her condition is greatly improved and she is responsive. Earnestine Williams called her daughter’s brush with near tragedy, “a miracle.”
Indeed, a miracle performed by a group of strangers, who simply knew what they had to do.
Nathan Sisk added, “If nobody had volunteered to come into the water, we may not have found her. It’s really the joint effort of everybody.”