Tragedy averted at WaterPark

A 4-year-old girl from northwestern Ohio nearly drowned Tuesday at the city’s WaterPark, but she and her family were back at the pool Thursday afternoon to thank those who saved her.

According to the Wapakoneta Fire Department, a young juvenile was transported to the hospital after a near drowning at 4:42 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the WaterPark, 106 Hamilton Road, Wapakoneta.

According to WaterPark Manager Jack Hayzlett, the girl was visiting the pool with her mother and 6-year-old brother when she began taking on water and then slipped under the water. A man nearby grabbed her arm as the lifeguard on the other side of the pool raced to the scene.

The man, who eventually was identified as William Reichart, superintendent of schools at Jackson Center, checked the girl’s breathing and began to administer CPR. By then, according to Hayzlett, two lifeguards had arrived and one immediately ran to the office to order a call to 911.

Two other patrons, Stephanie Drexler and Molli Frey, were also at the scene. Drexler, a recent nursing graduate from Rhodes State College, was the second responder and took over chest compressions for Reichert. Frey, a respiratory therapist, then took over from Drexler.

Drexler and Frey said the three worked on resuscitating the girl for 5-10 minutes.

“It felt like forever,” Frey said.

“There was no pulse,” Drexler added.. “She was blue.”

They kept working until the squad arrived.

According to Wapakoneta Fire Captain Tony Stinebaugh, the girl was transported to Lima Memorial Hospital.

Upon arrival at Lima Memorial, concern was raised that there was still water in the girl’s lungs and it was decided to transport her to Columbus Children’s Hospital, where she remained overnight, Hayzlett said.

By Wednesday, the girl was doing fine and returned home. An examination made in Columbus revealed no water in her lungs, and the girl was allowed to return home.

On Thursday, the girl’s mother asked if she could meet with those who helped her daughter to thank them.

Drexler and Frey and the four lifeguards on duty that day — Haley Kinstle, Taylor Law, Morgan Roediger and Brad Severt — were able to attend. Reichert was unable to attend due to a previously scheduled meeting.

In appreciation, Hayzlett offered Drexler and Frey a free pool party during the 2015 season. He said he would make the same offer to Reichert.

Drexler and Frey were delighted to see the little girl in much better shape.

“She looks so much better than the last time we saw her,” Frey said.

Hayzlett thanked everyone for their contribution to the rescue effort.

“This could have turned out a lot worse,” he said.

And although the lifeguards took no active part in resuscitating the girl, Hayzlett said they did what they needed to do: crowd control, monitoring other patrons still in the pool and standing by in case the responders needed anything.

“I have every confidence that they could have handled the situation, but fortunately, we had three professional people at the scene who had it under control and the best thing was to let them do what needed to be done.”