A Maine teenager swam the length of six football fields over the weekend to help save her sister and father after their boat capsized during a fishing trip, a news report says.
Kiana French, 16, made the journey in the frigid waters of Parlin Pond in Somerset County amid windy conditions, according to the Morning Sentinel newspaper of Waterville.
“I really love my sister. My sister is pretty much a part of me,” she said. “I care about her and we’ve been through a lot together. I didn’t want anything to happen to her, and I love my dad. Family comes first.”
The ordeal began Sunday afternoon when the 12-foot aluminum boat the three were traveling in started taking on water. It eventually filled up and flipped over, sending Kiana, her 14-year-old sister Cierrah and their father, Gary, into the pond.
“My sister was freaking out, and she’s like: ‘I’m sorry. This is my fault because I wanted to catch another fish,’” French told the Morning Sentinel. “It really wasn’t her fault. I made sure she was OK, and I tried to convince dad to put his life jacket on. He was in shock. He wasn’t even trying. He just hung onto the boat.”
French, after helping her sister into a life jacket, then decided to swim around 600 yards to shore to seek help.
“I knew if I waited any longer, the currents would get worse than they already were,” she told the newspaper, adding that she was “sad to leave my sister and my dad behind”, but “felt like it was the right thing to do.”
Once French reached shore, she started screaming for help.
“At one point, I stopped for just a minute,” she said. “I thought my sister and my dad were dead, and I thought I was taking way too long. I couldn’t see their heads anymore.”
French eventually was able to track down a boat that rescued her father. Her sister, meanwhile, was picked up by another boat that arrived on-scene.
“I cried,” she told the Morning Sentinel. "I was really happy to see both of them. My boat picked up my dad. He was the coldest out of both of them. He was in shock. He was really blue when he got in my boat and Cierrah was shivering.”
The three have now recovered after being checked by first responders.