Lake rescue: 'I think there were angels there yesterday'

GASTON, Ore. - The Gibson family's reunion at Hagg Lake turned into an incredible rescue Saturday.

Family members saved eight kids from drowning after they ran into the lake and fell into a deep drop off in the water 15 feet off the shore.

Family members told KATU News their reunion was almost over. They were packing up to leave when they heard some of the children screaming.

"I noticed one of the moms - I'm assuming - was waving her arms yelling help," said Eric MacLean. "I just took off running toward her."

"I started yelling 'they're drowning! They're drowning!' So I went out," said Michelle Rushing. "We formed a chain. I had tripped over a couple of them. I was trying to get down. I brought one of them up."

The family used their feet to find the kids, who were all under the water. Some of them were stuck in the mud at the bottom of the lake.

"Most of them were unresponsive," MacLean said. "They didn't look like there was any life left in them."

"I rolled her on her side and as soon as I started patting her, her eyes started blinking," said Lura Kirby. "And we turned around, there was a 12-year-old. He was just laying on his back. Didn't seem like he was very conscious either. I rolled him on his back. As soon as I rolled him, he started being conscious."

Gaston Fire District spokesman Ken Bilderback said the kids, ages 6 to 13, ran into the lake but did not see a steep drop off in the water. A stream channel runs near the beach area.

"It's a deceptive drop off. It goes from not very deep to deep without warning," said Bilderback.

None of the children was wearing life jackets.

"You couldn't see any kids in the water," said MacLean. "It was just kinda reaching down trying to grab whatever you could."

The children were taken to local hospitals and are now doing fine.

"I think there were angels there yesterday," said Lura Kirby. "That's the only way I can explain it."