It’s not often a father and daughter have a chance to reflect together on a life-and-death situation. But that’s what happened to Greg Probst and his daughter, Hazel, last week.
They were two of the people who helped rescue Luke LaCasse, who sank to the bottom of Tanana Lakes after jumping in wearing all his clothes. I wrote about this last week, thanks to rescuers Josh and Jocelyn Craft. Greg Probst, who also helped with the rescue, saw that column and has some reflection worth sharing about the incident.
He happened to be there with his paddleboard and also responded to calls for help. When Josh Craft dove in to look for the sunken swimmer, Probst met him out on the lake to help search. He mistakenly thought he was searching for a child.
But when he ended up helping pull LaCasse to the surface, Probst realized he had an adult. He, Josh and another rescuer got LaCasse to the surface, partially on the paddleboard and started kicking to shore.
“His body was cold, blue, breathless and pulseless,” Probst said.
They pulled him onto the beach. Jocelyn dove right into doing CPR.
She “broke the spell, and we all four went to work,” he said. “Somehow, we settled on a 30-compression/two-breath routine.”
Meanwhile, Probst’s 15-year-old daughter, Hazel, dialed 911 and helped direct an ambulance to the site.
“After a few minutes, Luke started gurgling and wheezing,” Probst said. Before long, he was breathing and had a pulse, although he remained unconscious.
“His breathing was more like gasping,” Probst said. “Very labored.”
He and Hazel left Tanana Lakes afterward, a little shell shocked. They came away with what he described as “the oddest impressions.”
“How quiet and serene and idyllic everything was before anyone realized Luke was on the bottom of the lake,” he said.
Probst said it took awhile for everyone to recognize that someone was actually in danger, despite a friend yelling “Help me, help me!”
“She seemed fine, so no one understood that she needed help for a friend,” he said.
Jocelyn made a similar observation, wishing the woman had yelled exactly why she needed help. It could have saved time, she said.
“Once we realized, collectively, and nearly in the same instant, that something was wrong, it was like a switch was thrown and everyone leapt into action,” he said. “Hazel said it was like a magnet. Everyone sucked to the opposite side of the inlet at once.”
Until Probst saw last week’s column about the rescue, he had no idea who the victim was or whether he had survived.
He said that LaCasse had been drinking alcohol and provided this takeaway: Drinking alcohol and then getting into the water is never a good idea.
An observant reader of my column, who is also a gardener, asked me to provide a list of the plants that the Youth for Habitat team planted in Raven Landing’s new rain garden. Teens enrolled in this annual program, with Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, researched plants that can survive both drought and flood conditions for this project.
They include: native geranium, Trollius, Filipendula, shrub rose, Iris, dogwood, mock orange, silverberry, columbine and bluebells.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.