It’s not everyday that one has a chance to be a hero. For one Oregon family, their chance came while attending a lakeside family reunion. Acting on instinct, the family saved eight children from drowning.
Evan Gibson, April MacLean, Lorne MacLean, Lura Kirby, Michelle Rushing, and Eric MacLean reported to NBC News that they were enjoying a picnic near the shore of Henry Hagg Lake “when they group heard people screaming.”
Gibson was washing his feet in the lake when he heard screaming and looked up to see a small boy flailing his arms from the water. Gibson told Fox News that he yelled, ‘”He needs help!’ as he sprinted into the water. Other family members followed, including three sisters and his nephew.”
Gibson’s family, who visit the lake often, know how dangerous it can be. At a press conference held Sunday, Gibson said:
“I think we knew what was happening because we had been there enough to know the conditions at the lake. The family, of course, didn’t know what was happening with (the first child to go in), so they all went off the edge and none of them could swim.”
Gibson, being the first to reach the water, saved two of the children’s mothers, who had run in to save their children but couldn’t make it past the sharp drop-off, where the lake’s muddy bottom falls from ankle deep to over 15 feet, The Oregonian reported.
According to NBC News, “April MacLean then grabbed the first two bodies she could get hold of and passed them to Gibson.” While trying to grab another small girl, Rushing tripped over a submerged body. It was then that they “realized [they] had no idea how many were underwater.”
The Oregonian reports that the Gibson family formed a “rescue chain … [recovering] one child after another.” MacLean credits adrenaline for the strength that it took, telling The Oregonian, “With the weight of their clothes, and the dead weight, I was worried I wasn’t going to be strong enough.”
By the time rescue workers arrived, all eight children were accounted for, and even the two who were pulled out of the water unconscious were sitting up, shivering under blankets. They had all been rescued in under four minutes.