Father critical after diving in water to save his kids

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 25, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Updated Sunday, May 25 at 10:08 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS - The moment first responders got the call, the clock started ticking.

On Sunday dozens of swimmers soaked up the sun along Lake Pontchartrain, but for one family panic spread when a 55-year-old man went under and did not resurface.

Police say the man went in after his 8-year-old son, who had fallen into the water.

A good Samaritan jumped into action, pulling the young boy and his brother, who had also gone in after him, to safety.

"You feel for the family," said NOFD Captain Lenny Daigle. "The whole time you're doing it you can hear the family, the distress of the family."

For Daigle and his crew the pressure was on as they searched the murky water. Over 15 minutes went by before one of his firefighters finally spotted the man.

"He popped out of the water and the first thing he said was I need help," said Daigle. "For a second I wondered is it him, who needs help? Then I saw another face."

Daigle dove in and helped pull the lifeless man to shore and in a matter of minutes EMS was able to revive the father of two.

"You feel good," said Daigle. "You feel like you have done your job and it's a great feeling."

Officials say the family was visiting from Georgia for the holiday weekend and were unfamiliar with the area, which officials say makes for a dangerous situation.

"Most people don't know the area well, they treat it like a beach and that's not what it is," said Coast Guard Officer Mullins. "It's not meant for swimming, it's not safe to swim, what's underneath that water is relatively unknown.

It's for that the reason the Coast Guard and the New Orleans Fire Department are out patrolling the water this Memorial Day weekend.

However, officials say there are some simply things you can do to keep you and your family safe.

"You can never be too safe," said Mullins. "If you can put a life jacket on your child even when they are in the vicinity of water, or some type of flotation device, that's the best practice."

Officials say It is also important to be aware of your surroundings.

"The lake in many spots is a treacherous place to swim, even if it's clean, even if it's swimable," said Daigle. "You have to judge your swimming ability and know where you are swimming."

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