Today, Air Mobility Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord recognized the heroic actions of one of their own. Staff Sgt. Matthew Siegele, 627th Force Support Squadron, rescued a young girl from drowning on New Year’s Day.
Siegele was at Carter Lake Park on Joint Base Lewis-McChord enjoying some outdoor time with his daughter. When his daughter saw three other young girls playing and asked if she could join them, he said, “Yes you can go play. As long as you stay off the ice, I’m okay with that.”
As the children played he noticed the oldest of the three girls encouraging the others to see how far out onto the ice they could walk. Siegele removed his daughter from the others and then advised them, for safety reasons, to stay off the thin ice. “The other girls shrugged me off and proceeded onto the ice.”
According to Siegele’s account, he and his daughter were about to leave the park area when he heard screaming and saw the youngest girl flailing in the icy water. Running to the other side of the lake, Siegele spotted another man jump from his van and run towards the lake to help; both were determined to save the drowning child.
The second guy got to the youngster a few seconds before Siegele and they both started swimming to shore with the little girl between them. But the other Good Samaritan went under the water and then Siegele lost his grip on the child. She went under too. Things had taken a grim turn when the Airman dove under the water. He managed to snare the jacket of the girl and get her head above water. When they reached shore Siegele wrapped the girl in his dry jacket.
Siegele said as he picked up the phone to call 911, the girl’s dad arrived. In a panicked state, he grabbed his daughter and headed home.
“We all exchanged information, but I was so cold and out of it, I forgot everything.”
Air Mobility Command wrote:
Later that night, Siegele contacted the parents of the little girl, after finding their phone number in his phone to see if she was okay. Siegele said her parents thanked me for saving their daughter.
“I’m just glad I was there,” said Siegele. “All the training I’ve got through my years in the Air Force prompted me to react quickly enough and ultimately save her life.”
Apparently the child’s parents did not take her to the emergency room. There was no mention if the other two girls were the victim’s siblings or why she was at the park without her parents. The second Good Samaritan was not named. Presumably he did not require medical attention.