BAY VILLAGE, Ohio -- Four to six foot waves rolled onto Lake Erie's shore at the Cleveland Metroparks Huntington Beach early Monday morning. Red flags were posted; a signal to the public the beach was closed. It was a warning a small group of teachers and students from the Positive Education Program in Cleveland failed to heed as they waded along the shoreline.
According to a spokesperson from the organization, five students and four teachers were enjoying a “special end of school outing” when nine year old Diamond Harris was pulled farther into the lake. A teacher, 46-year-old Laura Recco, “reached to bring the child to safety. In the teacher’s efforts to reach the child, the teacher was swept under.”
Bay Village Police and Fire received a 911 call for help at 10:44 a.m., 16 minutes before the beach was to open and the lifeguards were to take their positions.
"Hi, they just pulled a little girl out of the water at Huntington Beach,” a young girl’s voice can be heard on the 911 recording.
"Huntington Beach?" replied the dispatcher.
"Yea, she's breathing, but she's out of it," said the caller.
Clint Kranes was visiting the park with his children when he heard the commotion, "We just saw people in the water and we went out and tried to bring them in," he said as he explained how he became part of the rescue effort.
Meanwhile, several lifeguards jumped into action. Maggie Fay, 20, from Bay Village was one of them. She spoke to her mother, Maureen Fay, after the incident. Mrs. Fay shared pieces of their conversation with Fox 8 News.
"People were screaming and she went out and said the water was terrible," the shaken mother told Fox 8, "She felt she was going under, she didn't know if she was going to make it, I mean it was terrible."
Fay said the rescuers were able to get little Diamond to shore, but rescuing the teacher wasn't as easy.
"My daughter said she was holding onto the woman and trying to pull her in but my daughter was going under and another guard was going under and it was just unbelievable," said Mrs. Fay.
Fay's daughter lost her grip while someone else managed to grab hold of Recco. All made it out of the lake alive.
Nine-year-old Harris, her teacher and a 19-year-old lifeguard, Christian Pesarchick were all taken to St. John Medical Center in Westlake. Pesarchick has since been transferred to another hospital. Harris is in stable condition, and Recco is in critical condition.
Those who remained behind appeared shaken.
“My kids are here too, so all's I could think of was that could have been my kid out there,” said Kranes, relieved everyone made it to shore alive.