Youngsters saved from drowning off Twin Shores

Nancy
Nancy MacPhee
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Shanglee Tran (left) and Kennedy Crossland jumped to the rescue Monday, helping two struggling swimmers to safety at Twin Shores. Swimmers were warned that day by both staff at Twin Shores and Parks Canada, to stay out of the water due to dangerous surf conditions. 

Teens Kennedy Crossland and Shanglee Tran help children struggling in choppy waters Monday

SUMMERSIDE — Heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, Kennedy Crossland quickly jumped into action, leaving behind an afternoon of sunbathing to help someone in distress.

Running across the hot sand, rough seas just ahead, she and friend Shanglee Tran raced to the uncertain waters, never once hesitating.

Before them was a young girl, no more than eight, struggling in the choppy waters. She was drowning. Every second that ticked by brought the youngster closer to tragedy.

“Let’s go,” Kennedy shouted to her friend when they heard the girl’s cries for help.

The seasoned lifeguard knew what to do.

The 16 year old’s training — something she, fortunately, hasn’t had to put into action often — and quick thinking would give the struggling youngster the best chance to come out from the current’s grip alive.

It was Monday afternoon, just after 2 o’clock, when the teens hit the beach at Twin Shores. They were there with a group of friends, heeding the warnings of dangerous surf conditions, dipping only their toes in the warm summer waters of the north shore.

A day of lazing on the beach, and soaking up the sun was the plan.

“There were a lot of people on the beach and, surprisingly, a lot of people out in the water even after hearing the warning. Even Twin Shores had put out a warning not to go into the water,” said Kennedy, a lifeguard at Credit Union Place’s aquatics centre in Summerside. “It was insane how people did not know the dangers of the water.”

Whitecaps filled the sea as the waves grew in size. When Kennedy and Shanglee ventured out only a couple of feet, they could feel the current’s angry grip, which pulled at their ankles, prompting them to head back into shore.

But, something, rather someone, caught their eye — that young girl, walking further out in the waves, trying to get to the sandbar where countless other swimmers had reached safely.

Then came the cries for help, the young girl’s apparent struggle with the waves, which were pulling her out, bringing her down, their grip strong and potentially fatal.

“We were like, ‘How did she get out there?’ She was yelling and screaming and we were like, 'Oh, my god, we have to get her,'” said Kennedy.

There was no lifeguard on duty, something the girls didn’t know at the time and something that likely wouldn’t have stopped them any way.

Another friend joined them, not as strong of a swimmer. The current began to overtake her, prompting her to return to the safety of the shore.

The young girl, the teens estimated, was about 25 feet out, the waves crashing against her small body, sweeping over her head.

“Whenever we get her, we are holding her and the waves are so big,” said Shanglee, a strong swimmer. “I was almost done. I pushed myself onto this rock.”

Then, suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, something caught her attention.

“I looked over and there was another kid in the distance crying.”

Kennedy, who had a grip on the girl, handed her off to Shanglee, and started swimming against the current to reach the boy, no more than 11.

“There are three different kinds of drowning,” explained Kennedy. “There is a distressed swimmer and there is a drowning victim. Then there is the submerged... when you have to do CPR and things like that.

“It got to the point when I got to him he was almost submerged. He was crying and struggling. The waves were going over his face and he was being pulled.”

The current began pulling at Kennedy. Thinking she, too, may be in danger she still didn’t panic, instead putting into action her years of water-safety training.

“He’s underwater when I get to him. I have to actually bring him up. I get him out of the water and his face — it was so scary. He was so pale.”

After coughing up some water, the boy was fine. Quickly, his mother arrived at his side. The young girl, by this time, was already gone with her parents.

Both were believed to have been visitors to P.E.I.

“I just know after, our adrenaline was up, our hearts were pumping,” said Kennedy.

News of their heroics quickly spread, the chatter of the campground.

It was just days earlier that a 69-year-old Washington, D.C., woman lost her life in the waters off the north shore, caught up in the riptide off of Lakeside Beach.

Surf conditions at the time were dangerous and warnings issued that day from Parks Canada for swimmers to stay out of the water.

Fortunately, this story had a happy ending and, said Kennedy, comes with a lesson.

“You need to know the dangers of the water. As much as it is a beautiful place, you need to know how dangerous the water actually is — and we know that,” said Kennedy. “Get into swimming lessons and understand the dangerous of the water. Learn how to swim. And never swim by yourself.”

Neither girl sees themselves as heroes. And neither is looking for accolades.

As Kennedy nonchalantly put it, she was just doing what she was trained to do.

Organizations: Credit Union Place, Parks Canada

Geographic location: Twin Shores, SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. Washington D.C. Lakeside Beach

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Recent comments

  • Dundas Sue
    August 15, 2014 - 09:19

    several lessons here. ONE: get advanced swimming training if you can TWO: Heed warnings to stay out of the water THREE: honour everyday heroes

  • Parents--where-are- you
    August 15, 2014 - 08:27

    Where were the parents? Why did they let the kids go in the water or see they were drowning? Someone sitting on the beach drinking and ignoring the kids? Great job on the two girls doing what the parents should have been doing!

  • Just my honest opinion
    August 15, 2014 - 00:04

    My question is this.... WHY when alerts go out to stay out of the water because of conditions... do people of all ages continue to do so!!! Which by the way puts other peoples lives on the line to rescue and save them!!! This is just mind blowing to me. When it says it is not safe, IT IS NOT SAFE AND DO NOT GO IN THE WATER SO THAT OTHERS DO NOT HAVE TO RISK THEIR LIVES TO SAVE YOUR STUPID ASSES!!!! THANKS.

  • Gordon
    August 14, 2014 - 23:23

    These 2 young ladies are heroes-Thank heavens they were there to save 2 lives. These 2 kids owe their life to them,

  • Sandra Palmer
    August 14, 2014 - 17:38

    I'm am so very proud of you heroic actions! Im sure the families of the two will be forever grateful. Be proud.

  • Patty Wells
    August 14, 2014 - 16:35

    GREAT job ladies. There are two very lucky children today because of you.

  • Steve Burden
    August 14, 2014 - 15:55

    simply put.. you ladies are the definition of the word hero..

  • KL
    August 14, 2014 - 15:37

    Good work young ladies!

  • Suzette MacKinnon
    August 14, 2014 - 15:08

    These two young ladies risked their lives to help two young children,yes they are heroes. Too bad the parents didn't stay around to tell them how much they appreciated what they did.You two girls saved two lives and I for one appreciate that.Big,big hugs sent your way today.

  • Suzette MacKinnon
    August 14, 2014 - 15:06

    These two young ladies risked their lives to help two young children,yes they are heroes. Too bad the parents didn't stay around to tell them how much they appreciated what they did.You two girls saved two lives and I for one appreciate that.Big,big hugs sent your way today.

  • Joe Doe
    August 14, 2014 - 14:47

    GREAT WORK GIRLS.