Five-year-old girl who almost drowned near Black River Beach didn’t wear life jacket, fire chief says

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A frightening situation unfolded Wednesday night on La Crosse’s north side.

Emergency crews responded to a call of a little girl who was drowning near Black River Beach at approximately 6:30 p.m.

“303. Traffic, Black River Beach on Rose Street for a baby just pulled out of the water. CPR in progress,” said a response caller.

“This younger adolescent male actually saw bubbles coming out of the water, dove down and pulled her up out of the water,” fire chief Ken Gilliam said. “That’s when we were arriving.”

A second bystander quickly performed CPR on the 5-year-old girl before La Crosse fire department crews took over.

“It’s certainly a very close call,” Gilliam said.

First responders were able to get a pulse from the girl, and stabilized her before Tri-State Ambulance rushed her to the hospital.

“Copy that,” a response caller said. “Trauma red. 5-year-old female. Departing 10-12 minute ETA, low-risk.”

“Kudos to all of our people on scene,” Gilliam said. “Kudos to the other people that were there in the park that ultimately saved this little girl’s life.”

Gilliam says the little girl was not wearing a life jacket.

“Life jackets would’ve worked in this instance,” Gilliam said. “Currents are certainly unpredictable and they change, even if it’s close to a park or the beach. I think people need to respect the strength of the river.”

Thankfully though, a tragedy was avoided.

“This little girl is very lucky to be alive,” Gilliam said.

The fire department says the little girl is in stable condition at a local hospital.