Girl, 12, called hero for helping rescue drowning boy at Long Beach
Dale Ostrander, 12, was visiting Long Beach with a Spanaway church group, and got trapped in a riptide for 20 minutes. Dale didn't have any vital signs. "Literally, he was dead for 20 minutes, half an hour probably," said Damian Mulinix.
Seattle Times staff reporters
For more information on Dale Ostranderhttp://www.prayersfordale.blogspot.com/
PORTLAND — Friday off the Long Beach peninsula, 12-year-old Nicole Kissel battled the cold and a rip tide to help save a boy her age from drowning in the powerful surf. At times, as they clung her to her boogie board, she thought they would both perish.
"I actually said out loud, 'I'm going to die and I have so much more to do, and so does he," Nicole recalled Wednesday.
A big wave eventually separated Nicole from the boy, Charles "Dale" Ostrander of Spanaway. But her quick response is credited with helping save Dale, who finally was pulled from the surf by rescue swimmers after being submerged for what appeared to be 15 to 20 minutes.
Aid workers performed CPR for 10 minutes before taking Dale to the hospital. He was transferred to Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he stayed in a coma over the weekend. On Monday, Dale began breathing on his own and even spoke.
In a Tuesday news conference at the hospital, his parents, Chad and Kirsten Ostrander, said his survival is a miracle.
"He's lucky just to be here," said Chad Ostrander. "We've always maintained no matter what happens ... we have a strong faith in God."
On Wednesday, on her way back to her home in California, Nicole stopped in at the hospital to visit Dale. While in his hospital room, Nicole wasn't sure if Dale recognized her. But before she left, he focused his eyes on her, and said "thank you," she recalled in an afternoon news conference at the hospital.
Hospital officials say that Dale was in fair condition Wednesday, and had been moved out of the intensive-care unit.
The dramatic events Friday began as Dale went to the beach on a trip sponsored by the Bethel Baptist Church of Spanaway.
Tim Minge, assistant pastor the church, said Dale, who likes to play basketball and build with Legos, was on the beach with about 30 other kids, including his sisters.
Dale went into the water clad in long sleeves and long pants and, while wading, was swept out into the surf.
Nicole was visiting her father, Shannon Kissel, that day and decided to do some boogie boarding.
Nicole entered the water in a bathing suit — but no wet suit. Though she now lives with her mother in California, had grown up swimming in the Northwest rivers but hadn't spent much time in the ocean, which in the Long Beach area, can be rife with riptides.
As soon as she got in the water, Nicole noticed it was a turbulent sea full of seaweed and even feathers. Then she heard a boy in the surf yelling for help, and went to help him while her father rescued a second member of the church group who also needed assistance.
Nicole says that at that moment of decision, she didn't hesitate.
After she reached the boy's side, she learned his name Dale, he was 12 and that he did not know how to swim.
For what she estimates as some 20 minutes, the two used the boogie board to stay afloat as they tried to paddle ashore.
The cold water and their slow progress left Nicole fearing they both might not make it.
She said a bad word, and recalled Dale's response.
"He said, 'God doesn't like that.'"
As a big wave hit, Dale fell off the board, and she pushed him up. Then he went back down, and they were separated, she recalls.
Nicole's father went into the water again and helped her to the beach,
After making it back on shore, Nicole waited as a rescue team arrived and pulled Dale's limp body from the water.
Nicole was a hero. "She did everything she could," said Minge, the assistant pastor
"I've never been called a hero and I don't deserve it," said Nicole. "I wasn't the one who saved him."
Though rare, there are other cases of people surviving long periods of time being submerged in cold water.
In 2004, a 22-month boy survived was submerged for about 30 minutes in an Idaho irrigation canal and appeared to be dead. But a nurse detected labored breathing, and he survived, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Dr. David Spiro, medical director of pediatric emergency medicine at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, said a number of factors might contribute to such survivals.
The submersion in cold water can slow down the body's metabolism, and reduce its requirement for oxygen to the brain and other vital organs.
The drowning also might trigger a spasm in the voice box, which can help keep water from entering the lungs.
But perhaps the most important factor is "chain of survival," which reflects the overall response from the initial scene all the way through the hospital. Especially important is the quality of the CPR. "If any part of that chain is weak, then the patient may not survive," Spiro said.
The recovery for such patients can vary widely, Spiro said. Some patients may suffer profound brain damage, while others may make much fuller recoveries.
"For every patient, it's different," Spiro said. "You have to take this on a case-by-case basis."
Nicole initially thought Dale had died, and was heartbroken.
Nicole says that when asked by her friends about her summer, she will tell them about how she almost drowned but not talk much about the rescue because she wants to "keep it normal."
But if someone gets in trouble again, she won't hesitate."No matter who it is and if they need help, I will risk my life, I will do it," she said
Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or email@example.com.
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle Times reporter Jeff Hodson and researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.
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