Citizens rescue Franklin man after fall into Teche
A Franklin man escaped from drowning thanks to several citizens who all pitched in to rescue him from Bayou Teche Tuesday.
Morris Thibeaux, 57, was visiting with friends at the park along the bayou across from Jackson Street when at 1:08 p.m. he suddenly collapsed and fell into the water.
A series of events unfolded bringing together ordinary citizens and testing the local emergency response agencies, according to Franklin Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Hildreth.
Witnesses, including Thibeaux’s friend Galen Gaudet, frantically yelled for help.
Gaudet had jumped in the water himself to help Thibeaux but due to health issues, he said, “I can’t swim like I used to,” and was not able to pull Thibeaux to the bank.
Across the street from the park, Jana Gautreaux, a nurse practitioner, was taking advantage of a day off with her daughter on her front porch when she heard the cries for help. She immediately ran across the street to lend aid, Hildreth said.
A recent new mother, 19-year-old Tyler Dantin, also in the park, heard the cries for help and went to assist.
As Gautreaux and Dantin arrived at the scene, Thibeaux was floating face down approximately 10 to 15 feet from the bank.
Without hesitation Dantin dove into the water and was able to grab Thibeaux and turn him over.
By this time, Tony Scelfo had arrived with a rope and as the current started to pull Dantin and Thibeaux farther from the bulkhead, he threw Dantin the rope and pulled her and Thibeaux to the bank.
Once they were out of the water, Hildreth said Gautreaux immediately took over care of Thibeaux by placing him on his side, opening his airway and starting the process of clearing the water from his lungs.
“Her actions were critical in saving Mr. Thibeaux’s life,” Hildreth said.
He said as the rescue was taking place, calls were coming in to the St. Mary Parish 911 Center.
As one 911 operator took the information from the first caller, the second 911 operator alerted the Franklin Fire Department.
Hildreth said that within 1 minute from the first call, the first fire department unit arrived on scene and 2 minutes later three more units arrived.
Acadian Ambulance Paramedic Brandi Lege and EMT Mirranda Leonard arrived within 3 minutes and initiated advance care.
A tube was inserted through Thibeaux’s nose, his lungs were suctioned and his breathing was assisted.
Within 10 minutes from the first call being placed to 911, Hildreth said, Thibeaux had been pulled from the water, his breathing and heartbeat restored and he was on his way to Franklin Foundation Hospital.
There he received advanced treatment for his injuries and remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit, Hildreth said.
“Mr. Thibeaux’s rescue and treatment brought together bystanders and rescuers who performed gallantly in a dangerous and stressful situation,” Hildreth said. “Without the heroic efforts of Tyler Dantin, the effective and decisive actions of Jana Gautreaux, the foresight and quick actions of the 911 operators, the quick response of the Franklin FD, the skill of Brandi Lege and Mirranda Leonard and the talent of the hospital staff, the outcome would have been different.”