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Young heroes save two Spokane teens from drowning in Lake Coeur d'Alene

The four Coeur d'Alene teens saved two teens' life after they reportedly jumped into Lake Coeur d'Alene off the NIC dock, but couldn't swim.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — When Garrett Leonard heard someone was in trouble just off the dock at North Idaho College, he ran to help.

He looked into the clear waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene and saw a motionless body about 12 feet down at the bottom, as reported by our news partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

The 15-year-old dove in. He grabbed the lifeless male by the shirt and pulled him to the surface.

“I thought he was dead,” Leonard said Wednesday. “It was the scariest moment of my life.”

The teenage boy survived, along with another teen who nearly drowned Tuesday afternoon at the NIC beach.

At least one, believed to be underwater for about three minutes, was likely saved by the actions of several people who responded, including four local teens.

Craig Etherton, inspector with the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department, said because both males quickly received CPR, it probably saved their lives.

“I think so,” he said.

CDA firefighters and EMTs responded to numerous 911 calls that people were drowning shortly before 4 p.m. on a 90-degree, sunny afternoon.

They treated the two males onsite and transported them to Kootenai Health, where they have reportedly since recovered.

Etherton said the teens were from Spokane. He said they reportedly jumped into Lake Coeur d'Alene off the NIC dock, but couldn't swim.

At least, one didn’t surface and the other may have surfaced briefly before slipping back under.

Lane Stidham, a 19-year-old NIC student who works at Outdoor Pursuits at the beach, was off-shift and on the patio playing a guitar when he heard someone might be drowning.

Stidham saw commotion at the end of the dock, grabbed a life jacket and ran to the scene, joined by fellow Outdoor Pursuits member Lucy Mendez.

When Stidham arrived, one teen was out of the water and people were performing CPR on him.

Stidham was told another person was still missing. He saw two others in the water, jumped in and it was then he saw the unresponsive body at the bottom. About then, Leonard dove in and pulled it up.

Stidham tucked the lifejacket under the victim to help him float as he, Leonard and another person lifted him to the dock.

Preston DeMarre, 17, was at the beach with Leonard and joined the rescue. He began CPR that he remembered learning in eighth grade.

“He barely had a pulse. His chest, it felt like a blown-up basketball,” DeMarre said. “I felt his ribs flexing.”

The dock was crowded in what was a chaotic scene, as Leonard yelled for people to back up and call 911.

“It was crazy,” he said.

Stidham also performed CPR, as did others, and after a few minutes the teen coughed up water, vomited, and began labored breathing.

“You’re OK,” DeMarre told him.

Mendez, 17, called 911 and helped the first teen after he was pulled from the water and placed on the grass.

“He woke up and then he passed out again, then he threw up,” she said. “We put him on his side until the EMTs showed up.”

She said it was scary as she didn’t know if the victim would survive.

"I didn’t feel prepared," Mendez said. "I’ve never had to deal with that before."

When the first male pulled from the water regained consciousness, he jumped up and seemed to be in shock, Stidham said, but it was good to see him moving.

That reaction encouraged Stidham to double his efforts to save the second male.

"That kind of helped give me some motivation to keep doing CPR because I thought he was pretty lifeless at that point," he said. "But seeing the other guy shoot up really helped motivate me a bit more."

Stidham said any of the beach crew with Outdoor Pursuits would have done the same.

“We have a great team,” he said.

He said as word spread he was involved in the rescue, accolades have come his way.

“Probably a little bit more limelight than I would like,” he said. “I don't like being in the limelight too much, but it’s nice to know people recognize it’s the right thing to do.”

Leonard and DeMarre are friends. Both attend Lake City High School and both are linebackers on the football team.

They described it as a “cool, but scary experience.”

“We didn’t want them to die,” DeMarre said.

Most aren’t aware of their heroic actions, but it's getting around.

DeMarre said earlier Wednesday someone asked if they had heard about what happened at NIC beach — something about two people nearly drowning and being rescued.

Indeed, they had.

“Yeah that was me and Garrett,” DeMarre answered.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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