Six family members are being called heroes after saving eight children from drowning in Hagg Lake Saturday afternoon.
Evan Gibson, April MacLean, Lorne MacLean, Lura Kirby, Michelle Rushing and Eric MacLean were attending a family reunion in the picnic area when they heard a group of children from another family yelling for help in the water.
"We knew what was happening. We had been there enough to know the conditions of the lake," said Gibson. "The other family didn't know what was happening. They went off the edge and none of them could swim."
Investigators said eight children, ranging in age from 6 to 13, stepped off a steep drop-off formed by the channel of Sain Creek.
"I started yelling, ‘They're drowning! They're drowning!' I went out and we formed a chain but I had tripped over a couple of them. I was trying to get down and I brought one up," said Rushing.
Rushing and her family members managed to pass all eight children up to the shore hand-to-hand.
The rescuers said two of the children weren't breathing when pulled to shore. Several members of the family know CPR and were prepared to perform it, but both children began breathing again on their own before paramedics arrived.
"I think there were angels there yesterday," said Kirby. "That's the only way I can explain it."
The picnic area where the incident occurred has a life jacket loaner station maintained by the Safe Kids Coalition of Washington County and the Gaston Rural Fire District.
None of the rescued children was wearing a flotation device.
"I hope that people will learn," said Rushing. "Whether their children are good swimmers or not, have them in life jackets."
All eight children were taken to the hospital as a precaution but they are said to be doing well.
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