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Quick-thinking teen saves life of young swimmer

In life or death situations, mere seconds mark the difference between walking away with some bruises and a bad memory, or a life ending tragically short. The decisions made in that minuscule time frame present a person’s true character by forcing them into a situation which nobody wants to be in, and some would avoid altogether.

Medford Area Senior High School student Samantha Alexander proved to be a hero when she found herself in the dire situation of being the only person able to save a child who was drowning at Sackett Lake, quickly and critically making the decision to act in the paltry time frame.

Alexander was there babysitting another child separate from the incident, and had also been keeping an eye on the kids playing around in the water. She noticed one child hadn’t been listening to his mother’s instructions and was floating around on a tube pretty much wherever he felt, including around a steep under water drop-off where the lake deepens significantly.

“Suddenly, I saw the tube floating over by the reeds, so I wondered where the little boy who was using it was,” recalled Alexander. “Then I saw him: he wasn’t coming up, he was flailing his arms around, obviously drowning... he was in roughly six feet of water.”

Alexander, who was near picnic tables and swinging chairs a bit away from the lake, screamed to warn adults who were standing by the water and closer to the child, but no one gave an indication they heard her.

“Nobody noticed him, I don’t know how, but they didn’t,” she said. “It was pretty crazy.”

Realizing she was the child’s only chance, Alexander ran and threw herself into the lake fully clothed, minus shoes which she kicked off to swim better, and hauled the child to safety. Others, noticing the commotion, ran over to help the child on shore.

“I pulled him out, he coughed all the water up, he was obviously crying,” Alexander continued. “It’s just lucky I got to him in time. Two minutes is all it takes, just two minutes.”

Alexander urged that signage be posted around Sackett Lake warning of the drop-off, saying while many people in surrounding communities are familiar with the lake, all it takes is one person to not know about the danger and make a fatal error, especially a small child who might not understand it.

“It’s something that I’ve always been warned about since I was little, but if you’re not from around here or you’re a local and just not familiar with the lake, it can be really dangerous,” said Alexander. “Signs need to be there to warn people.”