Charles "Dale" Ostrander was swimming in the Pacific Ocean earlier this week off the coast of the state of Washington with his church youth group when tragedy struck. Dale, 12, was not a swimmer, so when he was caught in a rip tide that pulled him out to sea, everyone feared the worst. Everyone except 12-year-old Nicole Kissel, that is. Ignoring her father's plea to stay near the shore, Nicole bravely swam out on her boogie board into the deep water to try and rescue Dale. And she did, however briefly.
Nicole pulled Dale onto her three-foot board and the two were paddling back to safety when a wave hit the pair, sending Dale back underwater. This time he didn't resurface for about 15 to 20 minutes as rescue workers with dive gear and jet skis canvased the area. He was eventually found submerged two feet below the surface, cold, lifeless, and not breathing.
But Dale, like Nicole, is a fighter.
First responders performed CPR and got him to the hospital where he regained a pulse and started breathing again. Doctors say it's remarkable that after at least 15 minutes under water that Dale is recovering so well. It was probable that Dale wouldn't survive, and best case scenario he'd be a vegetable, but Dale's parents credit prayer and faith for helping their pre-teen son beat the odds. He's talking and, as of Wednesday, he's out of the ICU.
Courage and perseverance seem to come as naturally to Dale as it does to Nicole. How brave she must have been, defying her father, swimming deeper into rough ocean water, being entirely selfless in the face of danger, and all at the age of 12 -- I have no problem calling her a hero. She was the first in what turned out to be dozens of responders and her fearlessness and fortitude are inspiring. Dale thinks so, too.
Among his first words in the hospital on Wednesday were to Nicole. She visited him briefly and he struggled to make eye contact, but eventually he was able to look her square in the eye and say, "Thank you."
Dale and Nicole are wonderful examples of the intrinsic kindness and courage in the human spirit and I hope Nicole understands just how special she is for her valor in the face of danger. My thoughts are with Dale and his family, and my high-fives and pats-on-the-backs are with Nicole and her family. Rock on Dale and Nicole!
What do you think?
WATCH the Today Show's report on Dale's story:
Photo via msnbc.com