It was a near-disaster this holiday weekend on the Mississippi River, off of St. Charles County. Authorities credit quick-thinking bystanders with saving the lives of two children and their mother, around 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning; the three of them falling victim to a threat often overlooked on the water.
“None of us out here have ever seen this many emergency vehicles show up at one place at one time,” said boater, Alan Deutschmann, a board member of a local yacht club, whose current duties include promoting boat safety. “Then, there were two helicopters that came,” he said, describing the frantic scene…it’s a very scary thing to see.”
“Timing was everything,” said Corporal Lou Amighetti of the Missouri Water Patrol.
Authorities said a family was spending the night on their boat moored to Iowa Island in the Mississippi near the Woodland Marina in St. Charles County.
“The father woke up to find that the three, two children and his wife, were unresponsive,” Amighetti said.
“That’s scary. That’s scary, when you see Mr. Lou Amighetti with a baby in his arms, with a life jacket, with oxygen on her face,” Deustchmann said.
Authorities said a 4 year old girl, her 1 year old brother, and their 38-year old mother were overcome with carbon monoxide, sleeping in the boat’s cabin.
Authorities said the quick thinking of bystanders played critical roles here: one of those bystanders had oxygen canisters that he used to treat his own breathing condition; he started using those canisters to help revive the two children and their mom.
Amighetti said the family was from Belle, Missouri, about 95 miles southwest of St. Louis. He did not release names.
“This just happened to work out quite well,” Amighetti said. “One gentleman on the boat was on oxygen. So they just used all the oxygen bottles they had and put everybody on them immediately and probably saved their lives.”
He said this rescue should be a reminder for boaters that along with lifejackets, smoke and CO detectors were “must-have” items for boat safety.
“If you’re spending the night or you have a generator on board on the watercraft, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector working at all times,” he said. “It’s crucial especially if the cabins going to be sealed.”
“You never know when this can happen to you, your vessel or someone moored next to you,” Deutschmann said. “Their fumes can get you, too.”
Thankfully, those helicopters lifted off with no patients aboard. Instead, they went by ground ambulance to a hospital for treatment and observation; full recoveries expected.