Accident Database

Report ID# 4082

  • Flush Drowning
  • Heart Attack / Heart Failure
  • Near Drowning
  • Other

Accident Description

My son was one of the first responders.Some quick thinkers sprang into action to save a kayaker who had a medical issue while on the water.

Bystanders are credited with helping to save the man's life.

The incident happened at Whitewater Park Saturday around 11:30 a.m. A lieutenant from the Wausau Police Department tells NewsChannel 7 that a 55-year-old Minnesota man experienced a medical issue, rolled over in his kayak and did not resurface.

Paramedics credit the quick reaction from bystanders to saving the man's life. Sunday, two of those bystanders tell us they knew exactly what to do after the man was pulled from the water.
Emergency responders say it made all the difference in a potentially deadly situation.

Carrie Butt works at Dive Point Scuba. Over the weekend, she was selling equipment at Whitewater Park in Wausau, while kayakers practiced in the water.

"We're able to set up a small vendor booth here during open rec release days like today," said Carrie Butt. Saturday, however, would be a day unlike any other.

"I was standing at my booth, which is right on the riverbank here on this side of the river when my daughter noticed that a friend of hers was upside down in a boat and was not righting himself up," explained Carrie.

"It's kind of common for them to roll over and then to flip back up. When the boat didn't flip back up for 15 or 20 seconds, I started to get more curious and pay attention to what was happening," added Carrie's daughter, Ahna Butt.

Other boaters in the water managed to pull the 55-year-old Minnesota man to shore, while this mother and daughter duo sprang into action. Anna called 911 and grabbed rescue equipment, while Carrie swam to the other side of the shore and started chest compressions.

"We began CPR and we yelled for anyone that had an AED to find an AED and bring it to us. Again, another paddler was able to bring us an AED from a police officer that was nearby. There was 3 or 4 of us by then doing CPR and taking turns so that we were effective," said Carrie.

Firefighters and paramedics at the Wausau Fire Deparment responded only minutes later, and continued life-saving measures until the man once again was breathing and had a pulse. They commend the quick actions of the bystanders for stepping in immediately.

"They did everything right and that was a huge help to the fire department in helping revive that patient," said Wausau Firefighter and Paramedic Maxx Nowitzke.

Nowitzke said chest compressions can make the difference for a good outcome. "What you're doing is you're manually pumping that heart, continuing circulation, continuing blood flow to the brain," Nowitzke explained. "We were prepared to act fast and do what had to be done and not stop and not give up," said Carrie. They worked well as a team, to help a potentially deadly situation, turn out okay.

"We're just so very thankful and grateful that there were so many people here, a large team-type community here at Wausau Whitewater and everybody helps everybody," smiled Carrie.

Both Carrie and Ahna visited the man who's life they helped save and said he's doing well, and can't wait to get back out on the water.


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