Mary Keehn Wilbrecht helped to save Jeffrey D. Slagter, 6, from drowning, Ashby, Minnesota, August 4, 1962. Jeffrey, 6, who could not swim, was carried over a drop off at the edge of a submerged sand bar 10 feet from shore in Lake Melby. He flailed wildly as he drifted away from the bar and again sank. Mrs. Wilbrecht, 45, homemaker, who still was recuperating from an operation, was fishing from the bar while clad in a bathing suit. She dived from the edge of the drop off, swam under water to Jeffrey, and took him to the surface. Jeffrey grasped her around the neck, but Mrs. Wilbrecht broke his hold. Although he squirmed and tried to grasp her, she towed him 35 feet to near the sand bar, where others had gathered. Breathing heavily, Mrs. Wilbrecht attempted to lift Jeffrey onto the bar but could not do so and asked for assistance. Bruce R. Miller jumped into the deep water and took hold of Jeffrey. As Mrs. Wilbrecht with difficulty climbed onto the sand bar, Jeffrey grasped Miller around the neck; and the current carried them away from the bar. Mrs. Wilbrecht’s son, Jon M. Wilbrecht, was attracted and ran 300 feet to the bar. He lunged into the deep water beyond the drop off and swam a 140 feet to Jeffrey and Miller, who meanwhile had been submerged briefly twice. Miller then was under water but was supporting Jeffrey at the surface. Jon told Jeffrey to put his arms around his neck. Jeffrey did so, and Jon then took hold of Miller, who had surfaced badly dazed. With Jeffrey clinging to him, Jon towed Miller toward the sand bar, swimming with difficulty against the current. He became very tired, and he feared all would drown. Jon released Miller and urged him to float while he took Jeffrey to the bar. Tiring steadily, Jon swam with Jeffrey to within 40 feet of the bar, where he was submerged briefly. Meanwhile Miller had been carried by the current to a 150 feet from shore, where he sank and drowned. Jon towed Jeffrey to the sand bar and by then nearly was exhausted. Mrs. Wilbrecht lay prone in the shallow water, drew Jeffrey onto the bar, and then aided Jon in climbing over the edge of the drop off. The body of Miller later was recovered.
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