A 2-year-old boy who was put on life support after a near-drowning Monday afternoon near Yale Reservoir died Tuesday, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies had previously reported that the boy had been pronounced dead at the scene after being pulled from the water. Hours after they corrected the information Tuesday, they announced the boy had died.
Emergency responders from Clark and Cowlitz counties were called to Siouxon Creek, an offshoot of the Yale Reservoir, at 2:54 p.m. Monday for a report of a child missing near a bridge that crosses the creek. This area of the North Fork of the Lewis River, which straddles the Clark and Cowlitz county lines, is accessible only by boat.
Fifteen minutes later, another 911 caller reported that the boy was out of the water and receiving CPR.
The people who pulled the boy out of the water and helped perform the lifesaving measures were Bruce and Kristie Lieziert.
The Liezierts, who live between Battle Ground and Yacolt, spent Monday afternoon kayaking on the reservoir. Around 1:30 p.m., the two found a beach and were relaxing.
“We were just enjoying the sun, a couple other boaters to each side of us along a very small bay,” Kristie Lieziert said.
Then all of a sudden, a man standing about 50 yards away started yelling something they couldn’t understand.
Bruce Lieziert said he finally deciphered the frantic message: “child missing.”
The two sprang into action, hopping into their kayaks and circling the area. They both eventually jumped in and used snorkeling gear to search underwater.
After diving several times, Bruce Lieziert finally spotted the boy at the bottom of the reservoir, about 20 feet underwater. He pulled him to shore.
“It was just surreal when I finally spotted him on the bottom,” he said. “It was a terrible experience.”
CPR for 20-30 minutes
Kristie Lieziert, a registered nurse at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, immediately began performing CPR. She and the boy’s father traded off doing the chest compressions for 20 to 30 minutes before first responders arrived.
Kristie Lieziert said that during her revival efforts, she didn’t feel a pulse, but that paramedics later said they had found one.
The boy was taken to Saddle Dam, where a Life Flight helicopter landed and took him to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland where he was placed on life support. The boy, however, died Tuesday according to the sheriff’s office. His name was not released.
The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the cause and manner of the boy’s death.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what happened but detectives have said that the preliminary investigation indicates that it was an accident and that the child was not wearing a life jacket.
The Liezierts, who said they enjoy water sports, said that the event serves as a reminder to use life jackets and for parents to stay vigilant. Learning CPR, Kristie Lieziert added, would be a big plus.
“We’re very haunted by the image of that little guy,” Kristie Lieziert said. “Anytime you see a child so injured and sick, you can’t get that out of your mind. It doesn’t go away easily.”
“Something that could have been so easily prevented turned into a tragedy,” Bruce Lieziert said. “We tried to do our best; we just wish the outcome could have been different.”