Joshua H. Meltzer saved Erica R. Gagnon and others from drowning, Duluth, Minnesota, July 2, 2012. An 11-year-old girl was swimming in Lake Superior when she had difficulty attempting to return to the beach against the four-foot waves and strong outward current. Gagnon, 39, and another woman, 18, entered the water in rescue attempts but also encountered difficulty. Meltzer, 38, graduate student, had just arrived at the beach when he became aware of the situation. He entered the water and swam to the other woman, who at about 75 feet out was the closest to shore. Meltzer grasped her and swam her to wadable water, after which she returned to the beach. He then turned and swam out to Gagnon, who was with the girl at a point about 150 feet from shore and working to keep her afloat against waves that repeatedly submerged them. Telling Gagnon to float on her back and that he would return for her, Meltzer grasped the girl about the chest and attempted to swim to shore with his free arm. The current and overtaking waves impeded his progress, and he shouted for help. After a hard swim, Meltzer felt sand beneath his feet and worked his way to wadable water, where others removed the girl to safety. Handed a life jacket, Meltzer returned for Gagnon and, joined by another man, took her to the beach with the aid of the life jacket. Gagnon required hospital treatment, and she recovered.
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