Eau Claire toddler rescued from sinking van in Chippewa River
Jessie Morley of Lake Hallie, Wis, following the rescue. Photo courtesy of The Chippewa Herald.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (KMSP) -
Three bystanders plunged into the Chippewa River near Eau Claire, Wis., to rescue a toddler from a sinking van Saturday evening.
Monday afternoon, 3-year-old Logan Buchli was in a medically-induced coma at a hospital in Rochester, Minn., but caregivers told FOX 9 News he is been responding to treatment.
According to Lake Hallie police, the van rolled into the water at about 5 p.m. Saturday while the driver was trying to tow a boat from the river. The current was strong enough to pull the van into the water and 100 feet downstream.
Three people jumped into the river and one used a rock to smash out the back window of the van, freeing the boy. CPR was performed on Logan until police and paramedics arrived.
Logan's uncle, Quentin Buchli, had been able to pull the boy's 5-year-old sister, Siren, from the van before it submerged.
DAD DIDN'T KNOW KIDS WERE INSIDE
Statements given to police indicate the father of the children, 36-year-old Trevor Buchli, was trying to load the boat but was having trouble, and asked his brother to shut-off the van's engine as the boat drifted away. He told police he saw his brother turn the van off before it started rolling backward into the river.
Trevor Buchli, who is partially-handicapped, is a poor swimmer. He told police he felt helpless while he was floating down the river in the disabled boat and saw his van sinking in the water. He didn't know his children were in the van until he heard them screaming.
MEET THE RESCUERS
The three people who jumped into the water to help with the rescue were 29-year-old Benjamin Prince, 25-year-old Branden Linhart and 30-year-old Jesse Morley.
Prince was in the parking lot to meet his brother to go fishing when he heard yelling. He was able to break out the rear window with a rock and helped free Logan Buchli.
Jesse Morley was tending bar at the Sportsman's Club when he saw the van in the water. He ran down to the river to see if he could help. Jesse reported that the current was very strong, making it impossible to get into the vehicle from the passenger side. After Prince broke out the rear window, Morley was able to reach into the submerged van and find the Logan.
Branden Linhart was fishing when he heard cries for help. He jumped into the water and Logan was handed to him once he was freed from the van. Linhart helped perform CPR until police arrived.
"I expect that there were other citizens who helped and were not named for their roles in this situation," Lake Hallie Police Chief Cal Smokowicz said. "It is very positive to hear about a group of people with no formal training, who do not know each other, yet they were still willing and able to work together by entering a river quickly in an attempt to save a life."