NORTH SHORE (NEWS 1130) – It started as an ordinary afternoon near the water for a group of tourists, but ended with a dramatic and life-saving rescue.
Several people are being praised after jumping into action to help save a man from drowning at Twin Falls on Monday.
A newly-wed couple on honeymoon was taking in the sights at the popular spot in Lynn Canyon when things took a turn.
“The next thing I knew, my wife was yelling at me and telling me that this guy couldn’t swim, or he wasn’t able to swim, or something to that effect — I honestly don’t remember the words anymore,” Brian Laverentz said. “That’s when I kind of ran over and we were trying to figure out what was going on. Sure enough, he wasn’t bringing himself to the surface, and he stopped moving.”
Laverentz was already in the water, but was worried he wouldn’t be able to grab the man and swim because of the frigid temperature of the fast-moving water.
That’s when a family, visiting from Chicago, jumped in — literally.
“[The father] had dived in, and then so I ran in with him,” Laverentz recalled. “We were able to pull him up and drag him to shore.”
Once safely back on solid land, the pair began to perform CPR. Laverentz happens to be a medical student from San Antonio and says this wasn’t the first time he’d been in a situation like this — this time it likely helped save a life.
“We did chest compressions, sure enough, and he had thrown up a whole bunch of water,” he said. “And we were able to keep him together. We did chest compressions for about two minutes, and he started to come around. By the time the park ranger got down, he was able to tell us his name, which was pretty awesome.
“I honestly did not think we were going to get him back, we were just trying at that point,” Laverentz added.
The father who jumped in and helped pull the drowning man ashore turned out to be a lifeguard, but he’s not the only one whose skills helped avoid a tragedy.
“He was a lifeguard and I’d been, I was actually a United States Navy corpsman, so I was medical for the United States Marines for five years. Then I was an emergency medicine technician for four years before I stated medical school, so he had, probably, the ideal group of people,” Laverentz said.
On top of all that, the family also featured a competitive swimmer who also was trained in CPR. She, too, lent a helping hand.
Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Duncan told NEWS 1130 the man, 24, was lucky.
“They started performing bystander CPR, and luckily they did because I don’t think the outcome would have been the same,” he said.
The man, fire crews say, didn’t jump into the water, but rather had just gone for a swim in the river.
The family who helped keep the 24-year-old man from drowning did not leave any contact information, and fire crews say they’d like to thank them for a “job well done.”
Duncan said this is an example of just how important knowing a skill like CPR can be.
The family, as well as the couple, are being hailed as heroes by some–but Laverentz doesn’t see himself as one.
“I didn’t have the courage until [the father] jumped in, and so when I saw him jump in I just followed with him,” he said. “I don’t think I would say hero, at least not for me.”
As if fate didn’t play a big enough role that day, Laverentz says it wasn’t the first time he and his wife had met the man they saved — they had apparently had a conversation on the suspension bridge in Lynn Canyon earlier that day.
“I just thought it was also serendipitous that we had a lifeguard father, a competitive swimmer daughter — that also knew CPR, me — where I have about 10 years of emergency medicine experience, my wife who has lived around people in the medical field forever and helped kind of direct a bunch of people. I don’t know if he could have had any better luck as far as having a team of strangers.”
“Quick, selfless, and humble”
Duncan says one of his colleagues from the fire department managed to speak with Brian on Tuesday morning to appreciate his “amazing show of character.”
“A lot of people take first aid,” he says. “It takes a lot to actually intervene. It takes a lot to be calm under pressure and to make the decision to actually affect a positive outcome.”
He says he was struck by Brian’s humility and hopes the family will take a moment to congratulate themselves.
“I hope when they get home and put their heads on the pillow that they really have an opportunity to reflect on how amazing it was for them to do that.”