Around noon, Lengacher, a Harlan, Indiana resident, nearly drowned at the Markle Pool, and was rescued by second-year life guard Evan Welter, 16, from Roanoke, who was a life guard on duty. Huntington resident Steve Ochs, who manages the Markle Pool, and emergency room nurse Barbara Kaperka, assisted Welter in performing CPR.
Welter said that he had his eye on Lengacher as he swam from the raft to the shore when he began to show signs of struggling. When he first saw Lengacher go under he wasn’t sure if he was just swimming underwater or if he was having problems.
“At first I didn’t know if he was going under to swim underneath the water, and so I just kind of counted to 15 seconds,” Welter said. “After 15 seconds were up, he didn’t come up, so I decided to jump in after him.”
Once he was in the water, Welter said he didn’t have much trouble finding Lengacher under water.
“I went down and kind of saw him, went back up for air and then I went back down and got him,” Welter said, describing his underwater rescue.
Before jumping into the water, Welter followed rescue protocol and blew two blasts on his whistle, signaling an active rescue is in progress. The sound alerted Ochs, a retired Marine Major, who had been the pool’s head lifeguard for the previous three years and who now oversees the Markle Pool and all of the lifeguards.
Ochs said when Welter blew the whistle he was talking with two other Markle Pool employees in the concession stand near the window. Hearing the blasts, he saw Welter go underwater and come up with an unconscious victim. Ochs said he leaped through the concession stand window and began running toward the water.
Ochs and Kaperka, an ER nurse who happened to be a customer at the Markle Pool Thursday, helped get Lengacher out of the water. Welter and Ochs said Lengacher had a fixed stare and was not breathing.
“He had blue lips and displayed all the signs of a classic drowning victim,” Ochs said.
Finding a weak pulse, Kaperka told Welter to start chest compressions and Ochs began mouth-to-mouth.
“I cleared his airway, gave him one good breath, looked for the result and he exhaled very heavily and started breathing shallowly on his own right then,” Ochs explained.
From there Lengacher began showing continuing signs of improvement.
Paramedics arrived on the scene and assisted in getting Lengacher on a stretcher and into the ambulance where he was transported to Lutheran Hospital. Ochs said that once Lengacher had been in the ambulance for a few minutes he began to really become alert.
Ochs said he was thankful Kaperka decided to spend her afternoon at the pool because having an ER nurse at the scene was very helpful.
“It can never be a bad thing (to have an ER nurse), let me tell ya!” Ochs exclaimed.
Lengacher’s parents, Max and Kristi Lengacher, said their son is an experienced swimmer, but after just returning from a weekend houseboat trip where he was constantly swimming on a lake, he must have outdone himself earlier in the day.
Both parents expressed their sincere gratitude to all of the people who had helped save their son’s life.
“In today’s society, sticking your neck out a little bit to help a person can be risky,” Max Lengacher said. “They did there, and we’re very, very thankful.”
Lengacher, who remained at Lutheran overnight for observation, said he was happy things turned out the way they did and he expected to be released in the morning.
Although his quick action helped to save Lengacher’s life, Welter said he doesn’t feel like a hero.
“(I’m) not a hero, I just did what I was trained to do,” Welter said. “It’s just my job.”
Ochs, however, disagrees and posted the following on www.garylsnyder.com:
“I want to recognize all the guards; Evan for doing an absolute perfect rescue … taking the victim off the bottom in 18 feet of water and doing chest compressions when we got him on the beach which allowed me to give mouth to mouth and the nurse to monitor vital signs. Molly Brown, Tyffany and Mariah Patrick and Marissa Goetz controlled the scene, kept all other swimmers safe and cleared the water. Nick Ochs and Jessica Stevens in the snack bar got the 911 call launched. The guards cleared the path for the rescuers and in short did everything in our emergency action plan to perfection. The end result is a 17-year-old is watching T.V. tonight with his family instead of a tragedy. Our community should be very proud of our youth. They stepped up when everything was on the line and executed flawlessly. OUTSTANDING!” – Steve “The Major” Ochs