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Students, police save man from Vermillion River

Two Dodge Middle School students were crossing this trestle Thursday afternoon when they saw a man who seemed out of it. They called police, who found the man floating in the river.

Two quick-thinking middle school students and a fast response from Farmington police may have saved the life of a man who wound up in the Vermillion River near downtown Farmington Thursday afternoon.

The two boys were on their way home from Dodge Middle School around 2:30 when they saw the man. They were walking across a railroad trestle that crosses both the river and a trail through Rambling River Park when they saw the man lying on the bank of the river. They talked briefly with the man and continued on their way, but something about the conversation stuck with them.

"They just thought, he's not acting right. He's a little out of it," police chief Brian Lindquist said. "They turned on their phone and gave us a call." 

The 911 dispatcher told the boys to go back to the school and wait for police, but when Sgt. Lee Hollatz looked for the man he couldn't find him. He asked the boys to point out exactly where they'd seen him and as they looked they found the man's cell phone, wallet and ring on the bank of the river. Then the boys saw his blue San Diego Chargers jersey floating six inches to a foot below the water. 

Hollatz radioed for help and started preparing to go into the water. He took off his belt and gun and camera and handed one of the boys his radio with instructions on how to call for help if he disappeared under the water. 

"I was down there, and you can't see the bottom so you don't know how deep it is," Lindquist said. "If you get out there and the bottom's soft and the current pushes you, what are you getting into?"

The man, described as a white male in his 30s or 40s, was not breathing and didn't have a pulse when Hollatz pulled him out of the water. Hollatz sent the boys back to his squad car to get his oxygen bag. With CPR and oxygen they were able to revive him. 

As of 7:30 a.m. Friday the man was alive and receiving care in the intensive care unit. 

Lindquist said several other students passed by the man without doing anything. He gave the two boys who called police a lot of credit for helping them find the man. 

"99 percent of people do (walk by). They don't want to be involved," he said. "For 13 and 14, that's pretty darn impressive."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606
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