11-year-old spots drowning toddler in lake, rushes straight in

He saw the girl's head was underwater and as he got closer, realized she wasn't playing. Knowing he would need more help, he started yelling 'Drowning! Drowning!' hoping nearby adults would come
June 28, 2018 1:50 pm Last Updated: June 28, 2018 1:50 pm

Summer is almost here, and as the weather gets warm people will be heading to the water to keep cool.

But as fun, as it is to swim at your nearby beach or lake, it’s important to understand it can also be dangerous. As we head into the season, learning important safety tips can save your life—or someone else’s.

That’s what swimmers at Lake Johanna in Arden Hills, Minnesota learned recently after they avoided a tragedy thanks to an unlikely hero.


Eleven-year-old Everett Melling was on the lake at Tony Schmidt Park with his mother on May 26, but a day of fun was suddenly interrupted by a dramatic turn of events.

Everett saw a 3-year-old girl deep in the water—and realized she was drowning.

“Her head was under water,” Everett told KSTP. “She wasn’t moving at all.” Everett swam towards her and confirmed that the girl wasn’t playing a game.

Since the season doesn’t officially begin for a few weeks, there was no lifeguard on duty.

Realizing he needed more help, he went back and told his mother, Elena, what was happening.

“I just started screaming ‘Drowning! Drowning!'”  Elena Melling said.


A group of rescuers—including Everett—jumped into the water to get the young girl to safety.

“We get her to the shore,” Everett said. “There’s some nurses that know CPR.”

“I heard someone say ‘She has a pulse,’ and someone else said she was breathing on her own,” Elena said.

Luckily, the girl is expected to make a full recovery.

“It was amazing they were able to revive her,” Elena said. “I was so thankful.”

After being resuscitated with oxygen, the 3-year-old was brought to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. It is unclear where the girl’s parents were at the time of the incident, though witnesses said there was one relative with her at the lake.


It’s a miracle that Everett noticed the girl was unresponsive and got help, because it’s clear they got to her just in time.

“I feel like it was a miracle, because by the time he told me, and I reacted, and other people reacted, she was face down in that water for so long and not struggling,” Elena recalled.

While in this case everything worked out it’s a frightening reminder that we need to stay safe by the water.

“We need to know how to respond in these situations and be ready,” Elena said. “Realize the beast that water is and recognize the danger, as much fun as it is.”

That includes keeping an eye on our own children, as well as keeping an eye out for others in need of help, especially when there’s no lifeguard on duty.


According to KSTP, the Red Cross says to look out for anyone face-down in the water or anyone unresponsive, and never to assume someone is just playing.

While this 11-year-old saved the day this time, not everyone notices these things. So keep an eye out next time you’re on the water, a quick reaction could save someone’s life.