Heroic teen dies saving young relatives from raging waters in Minnesota
A heroic teen died rescuing her younger relatives from raging waters below a Minnesota dam this week, according to local authorities.
Raina Lynn Neeland, 18, was with a group of seven children — both siblings and cousins — Monday afternoon at the Clearwater Dam in Sinclair Township, where water from Clearwater Lake flows off the 14-foot-high dam into a river, the Star Tribune reported.
The children were sliding over the off-limits dam — where the water was considerably higher due to recent rain — and into the river when they got caught in the turbulent water, authorities said in a statement.
“They use it as a big waterslide,” Sheriff Darin Halverson told the Star Tribune. “Kids like to do that. … They use tubes or whatever. Lots of times they go over on their own.”
Neeland managed to pull some of the children — the youngest 6 years old — to safety before she got caught up in the water herself.
“We probably would have had multiple fatalities,” Halverson told the paper. “The water is just churning under the dam. … She did her part and saved who she could.”
Witnesses estimated that the teen was in the water for about 10 minutes. Once she was pulled back to land, bystanders and medics tried, unsuccessfully, to resuscitate her.
In addition to Neeland, others on scene also joined in the lifesaving efforts, the family said.
The teen’s uncle, Jeremy Neeland, told the Tribune a “mystery woman” brought 8-year-old Jada Neeland back to life.
Raina’s teenage brother Blaze also grabbed a “kind of unconscious” 15-year-old, 240-pound cousin by the ankle and “had enough power” to pull him from the waters, the uncle added.
The children had gone to swim at the dam at last three other times over the summer, but “8 inches of rain turned the river into a rapids,” he said.
“They didn’t realize where the undertow was, and them little kids went under.”
In a GoFundMe page organized by the family to help cover Raina’s funeral expenses, the family described her as someone who “loved cooking with her grandma [and] helping take care of her siblings and cousins.”
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