“Ordinary” bystanders become life-saving heroes!


CHAMPAIGN — One boy’s Halloween almost ended tragically, but this man made sure it wasn’t the case.

A 7-year old boy with autism nearly drowned while trick-or-treating. Police say he got away from his mom and ended up in a pond on Cherry Hills Drive. But, a few bystanders came to his rescue.

Officials say this could have so easily been a tragedy if not for those few people who saw what was happening and jumped into action. One of those people says it was instinct and a little bit of training.

Hearing commotion behind his house on Halloween night, Bill Brinkkoeter says he thought it might just be kids playing.

“Somebody was calling for 911. Somebody else was calling to start CPR, so I knew it was a serious situation.”

He quickly learned a boy’s life was in danger. Police say a 14-year old Urbana boy, named Jonathan, pulled him out and started CPR. Brinkkoeter says he rushed over and offered to take over.

“The young man didn’t look responsive at that point. We continued with the CPR. Within a minute or two, his eyes opened, started coughing a little bit, so we rolled him onto his back, tried to get anything out of his mouth.”

As a crowd of trick-or-treaters stood by, the paramedics took over from there. Chief Deputy Allen Jones, of the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, says it easily could have been a different story.

“I think that’s a fantastic testament to the group that responded here because you never know what’s going to happen or how you’re going to respond until you’re place din that position.”

Brinkkoeter had the same concern. As a manager at his day job, he’s required to have CPR training every two years.

“You see what’s going on and you know what you’ve got to do. You wonder if you’d know what you had to do if you use your CPR and it actually came back to me rather quickly and I knew what to do.”

He calls the response a citizens’ duty. Jones calls it heroic.

“I use that term on purpose because you just can’t underestimate the opportunity to act when you have it. People, a lot of times, will keep to themselves and this is an excellent case of why we want to see people take time to help others when they have a chance.”

The boy was taken to the hospital, but the sheriff’s office hasn’t heard how he’s doing.

A few tips in case you ever come across a situation like this. First, get help. Remove the person from the water, then check for breathing and a pulse. If the person isn’t doing either, start CPR.

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