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Rescuers surprised by quick appearance

6/13/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Emergency responders with the Hays Fire Department arrived on the scene moments before the 10-year-old girl was swept out of the Lincoln Tunnel in Hays on Monday.

Darin Myers, a lieutenant with the HFD, and firefighters Keith Mermis, Tyler Brungardt and Lucas Everett helped rescue the child from the rushing water. The young girl had floated in the tunnel for 10 minutes, Myers estimated.

"We had just no longer been there for 10 seconds ... and I turned around and saw her come out of the tunnel," he said.

The girl, who was taken to Hays Medical Center as a precaution, told the men she was worried about her friend who still was in the tunnel. Responders eventually learned the 14-year-old friend had self-rescued herself by climbing out of a storm-drain.

"We stayed in the water waiting, which seemed like an eternity when you're waiting for somebody to come out and time is of the essence," he said.

Six-inches of fast moving water poses a drowning risk to anyone.

"The safety message is running water is a true hazard," Myers said.

There were 33 city employees and 10 state and county employees involved in the search, according to Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty. The time for the city employees equaled approximately $1,100.

Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown said the incident is a reminder to be cautious.

"We were lucky no one was seriously hurt," Brown said. "We need to be on guard and teach our children the dangers of swift moving storm water so that no one gets hurt in the future."