How three anglers helped save man from drowning at Blackwell Forest Preserve
Tyler Line has kept Ramon Garchitorena's fish stringer in the back of his truck for two weeks.
He says he ate the rainbow trout that were attached to it but was excited Tuesday to return the stringer to Garchitorena.
The two men embraced at Silver Lake in Blackwell Forest Preserve near Warrenville, just weeks after Line, of Genoa, pulled a drowning Garchitorena from the lake and performed CPR until rescuers arrived with the aid of two nearby fishermen.
"I'm so happy to finally meet these three guys," Garchitorena said. "These guys were the right people, in the right spot, at the right time. Not a lot of people would probably do what they did."
Garchitorena, of Forest Park, was fishing around 11 a.m. on April 24 from the shore when he lost his lure and slipped while trying to retrieve it on the south end of the lake.
Line, who had briefly talked to Garchitorena about his bait and technique earlier in the morning, said he was fishing about a quarter-mile down when he heard splashing and noticed Garchitorena was no longer on shore.
"Maybe he's going for a lure like I would. I'd swim out for a lure. Those things cost a lot of money," Line said after a tearful reunion with Garchitorena and two other boaters who were also in the right place the right time. "Then I look over again, and he's gone. I couldn't see him."
Line said he ran back to where he had seen the man and began searching the water. After seeing the top of the man's head underwater, Line shed his clothes and jumped in. He dragged Garchitorena back to shore and performed CPR until the man started coughing up water.
"That's when I screamed to the other two guys to call 911," he said.
Gary Jacobs and Alfred Cedeno called 911 and quickly made the decision to fire up the motor on Jacbos' boat on the gas-motor prohibited lake. Once rescue crews arrived, they used the boat to drive rescuers to the scene.
Garchitorena regained consciousness, and paramedics from the Warrenville Fire Protection District took him to the hospital, where he fully recovered.
Line said he had to learn CPR several years ago so he could care for his younger sister, who was born premature. Saving Garchitorena was the first time he had to use it.
"I was second-guessing myself the whole way but I just kept pumping his chest," Line said. "It's got to work right? It's pretty self-explanatory if you've watched enough 'Gray's Anatomy.'"
Cedeno said firing up the boat's motor was an easy decision.
"You have to do what you have to do to be a good citizen," he said. "Just proud to be able to help."
Each of the three men involved in the rescue received plaques from both the forest preserve district and the Warrenville Fire Protection District. Garchitorena received a water bottle, socks and a gift certificate from the forest preserve district.
Forest preserve spokesman Tony Martinez said the rescue was a prime example of people working together.
"When you're out and about, make sure you stay vigilant. Make sure we know our surroundings. When there's someone in need, lend a helping hand," he said.
As for Garchitorena, he still plans to be back out at his favorite fishing spot regularly.
"But I'm going to stay out of the water," he said.