"When someone's about to drown or someone needs help, you don't really think about it before you're about to help them." (12 year old Nicole Kissel).
Now THIS is the news I want to write about....THIS should be on the front page of every newspaper. If you haven't already heard the news, it will send a chill through your spine and leave you subconsciously asking yourself "What would I have done?" and just might inspire you and I to do something as great if the need arose. If you've already read about it, then this news is worthy of a second read.
First though, let me take a quick step back in time....I was 12 years old and living with who I'll refer to as "my surrogate family." My Aunt Katie, Uncle George, and their three children, my cousins. (Becky have you cashed the check yet? -- refer to "I'm A Girl Scout!"). We crossed the border often into Ensenda to camp on the beach where their friends had a quaint little beach house at a very busy campground. At night we sat around a bonfire and told stories. I loved my surrogate family. They were fun! But then something terrible happened that stayed with me permanently; those lessons that we all learn eventually about Mother Nature and her many mood swings.
A few hours before dark, my Uncle George exclaimed that he thought it was odd that several horses were being taken into the ocean. As a 12 year old, I didn't see it as odd; the cowboys were just taking their horses in for a little dip. But Uncle George insisted that something wasn't right, and he alerted us. We quickly made our way down the sandy beach. One by one, the horses started returning with children (young teenagers), hanging onto ropes behind them. Several teenagers had been out on a raft together enjoying the crisp of the ocean on a sunny day; but they had hit a riptide. They were unable to swim to shore. We stood there speechless as they were brought in one by one. Then there was the girl. She was lifeless. Only 15 years old. I stood at her feet while people panicked all around. She was flipped over on her stomach as the ocean water and foam came out of her mouth. Then they flipped her back over and began breathing into her mouth and pushing on her chest -- I learned later this was CPR. I would go on to learn how to administer CPR myself and to ultimately assist a man who saved the life of a teenage boy. If i can say anything it is that everyone should have an idea of how to administer CPR. There are classes on every corner - call your local community center, your fire station, your police department. But I'm not here to preach...
The 15 year old girl was still, not breathing, as they furiously attempted to revive her. The circle of people grew, a woman fainted, and I stood there next to her feet, watching. To this day I remember one of my thoughts in my moment of shock, that she had really pretty toes. I don't know where our brains go in the rawness of those moments, but they go.
They pronounced her dead and she laid on the beach covered for two hours until someone came to claim the body. I've always loved Mexico, but we were on Mexican time and I remember thinking the oddity of it that there was a covered body laying on the beach while children not far away were singing and laughing and building sandcastles. The antithesis of life and death, intertwined. After asking a lot of questions, I finally understood that they just couldn't get to the 15 year old girl with the pretty toes quickly enough.
This Friday, something similar happened in Long Beach, Washington. Only this time, 12 year old Nicole Kissel was boogie boarding in the ocean having a grand old time when she heard a boy screaming "Help me! Help me!"* Without a second thought, Nicole instinctively turned her boogie board around and began swimming out to the boy; toward the riptide! Now I don't know if you have ever experienced a riptide, but the ocean is a powerful force and you don't have to be that far out to get washed away by a sudden drop in ocean depths combined with turbulent waters and currents going in different directions. You can't plan for it, and it's nearly impossible to fight. It just happens. Fortunately, the most I've experienced have been painfully forceful waves that flipped me over more than once and ripped off my swimsuit top leaving me dazed, embarrassed, and with a mouth full of sand and salt. Maybe Mother Nature was trying to humble me, but whatever the reason that is minor compared to the force of a riptide.
So....out little Nicole swims toward the riptide while her father who was aware of the dangerous conditions was shouting at her over the sounds of the pounding waves to come back! She ignored him and continued to go. She didn't even think twice. Once she got to him she let him on the board first, then she got on top of him while he shouted "Keep kicking, keep kicking." But then another wave struck and they were separated. Nicole made it back to shore, but Dale Ostrander did not.
For 15 minutes, Dale Ostrander was under water. He was lifeless when the volunteer rescuer brought him to shore and CPR was administered immediately, but his pulse did not return....until he got to the hospital. Nicole Kissel had bought him the time he needed for the rescuers to reach him. The water was cold enough to slow down his metabolism, and the universe wasn't ready to take him just yet.
Call it God, call it a miracle, or call it a 12 year old girl who said "When someone's about to drown or someone needs help, you don't really think about it before you're about to help them." I wish we could all be so brave.
Sweet dreams and always, GOOD dreams,
*See (http://www.cbsnews.com/ and http://www.abcnews.go.com/) for information source.