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Passers-by hear cries for help, assist in rescue effort

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A child ran into the bait shop near the Big Blue River in Edinburgh and said someone was outside in the water calling for help.

Owner Robert Jessie ran outside about 12:15 p.m. Friday and saw several teens in the water. Two were grasping the shore and holding on to their unconscious friends as the current tried to drag them downstream.

They had been swimming upstream of the dam, but the current pulled a 16-year-old girl over the edge, sucking her under the water. Her four friends, all boys, followed to try to save her.

Jessie called 911 and threw the phone to his daughter-in-law as he rushed to the shore to help get an unconscious teenager out of the water. A boy was holding her up so she didn’t get swept away in the strong current.

Jessie said he never appreciated the CPR training he had to get for his job at the Edinburgh wastewater treatment plant. But as he helped pull the girl out of the water, that training immediately came to the front of his mind. He started doing chest compressions to get her heart and lungs started again.

“I immediately had no pulse, no breath and started CPR,” he said of assessing the teen’s condition.

His wife ran up the road and flagged down a passing car. Christopher Lloyd was on his way to his apartment near the dam. She quickly explained there were teens in trouble in the water, and he too ran down to the shore as Jessie was pulling the girl out of the water.

A bit to the south, Lloyd found another boy holding on to an unconscious teen. The current was moving so fast that there was no way he could have hoisted his friend out of the water on his own, Lloyd said. He helped pull them both out of the water and started CPR on that teen.

“He was trying to hang on to his friend,” Lloyd said.

“He was right underneath the bridge.”

Their quick response helped pull four teenagers out of the water after they went over the dam and managed to get out of a dangerous area of circulating water that continuously pulls people into the dam wall.

Jessie sat on a picnic table near the water later in the afternoon, staring out at the water spilling over the dam as rescuers continued to search for the missing teen. He was thankful he knew what to do and hopefully helped save those kids.

“They’ve been training us on CPR forever, and I never really needed to remember it until today,” he said.

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