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Connolley helps man in trouble at river

Emergency training pays off for local student

Hunter Connolley

Credit: Contributed photo
Hunter Connolley

SKOOKUMCHUCK – On a hot day in early July, 16-year-old Hunter Connolley was in the right place at the right time.

Connolley had recently completed the six-month OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) training as part of working to become a member of the Snowhaven Ski Patrol.

“I was swimming with an inner tube at Skookumchuck – I think it was 104 degrees,” he said. He saw a middle-aged man swimming across the river who seemed to be struggling.

“I watched to make sure his head was staying above water and when he got to the other side and laid on the beach, I gave him a thumbs up and asked if he was OK,” Connolley said. Although the man said he was fine, Connolley continued to watch as the man was resting and breathing hard.

Another person with an inner tube made his way over to the man and yelled over to Connolley that his “dad wasn’t doing too well, could he help?”

Connolley swam over and he noticed the man’s breathing was labored and he was white. He and the man’s son – the man did not have a life vest or any type of flotation device – arranged their tubes to get the man in and swam to a small area of land where Connolley saw his mom on the beach. He took the man’s pulse.

“Even after resting more than 30 minutes, it was at 120 and he was coughing,” Connolley said. “I yelled to my mom to call an ambulance.”

After she [Tara Connolley] did that, she swam over with her inner tube and the three swam with the man to the beach shore and got him up to the entrance area where White Bird’s QRU took him to Syringa Hospital.

“He was coughing up some blood up there – I really don’t know all what was wrong,” Connolley said.

Connolley said he is thankful for the emergency training he has received.

“It’s good to know because you just never know what can happen,” he said, showing a cut on his own foot that he got at the river and was able to take care of and bandage.

Five years ago, Connolley witnessed his uncle, Pat Connolley, drown at Twin Bridges.

“I know there was nothing I could have done in that circumstance,” he said. “But it does make you think and want to be prepared for when you can help.”

Connolley will be a junior at Grangeville High School this year. He is in the band and Varsity Blue choir and participates in track. He also plays on the Quad City Fusion Soccer Team. He is the son of Mike and Tara Connolley of Mt. Idaho.


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