A 16-year-old Clarinda girl is recovering at an Omaha hospital after trying to save the life of a boy who drowned in the Nodaway River on Tuesday. Tamra Haley talked today about the ordeal. Haley says she saw the boy being pulled into the undertow.
“Actually a lot of people have it wrong,” Haley says. “I didn’t really jump in. I was in the river with all the other kids and he was calling out. We were swimming right next to each other and I grabbed him. I told him to hold my hand and thought if we could make a raft float and kick to the edge we could make it but he started panicking.” Haley says the boy fought her because he was being pulled under.
She says, “He started pushing me under and every time he came up I told him to ‘hold my hand, hold my hand’ because I knew if he was able to calm down enough to grab my hand we could have made it to shore.” Haley is a certified lifeguard and trained in CPR and instinct to save the boy took over. She says the boy struggled and eventually pulled her under.
“I think when we actually separated from one another we had slipped into unconsciousness,” she says. “I remember because I’ve swam at this river many times before and I remember trying to figure out how deep we were because I thought if maybe we were nine-feet under and he was pushing me with as much might as he could, he might catch the lip of a rock or something. I stuck my hand all the way up and I remember twiddling the top of the water with my fingers just before I slipped into unconsciousness.”
Haley says she was very fortunate in many ways. Others were there and pulled her from the river. “The next thing I remember is being on the shore and looking up to see my rescuers, my brother-in-law, J.P., and my boyfriend and some other people from the river had pulled me out. If my brother-in-law didn’t know CPR and hadn’t started performing right when I got out I wouldn’t be alive today.”
The boy is identified as 11-year-old Deontae Haynes of Chicago. His body was found in about 27 feet of water by divers.
By Karla James