Lifeguard just doing her job

July 30, 1999


photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

A 1998 Berkeley Springs High School valedictorian, working as a lifeguard in Hancock for the summer, is being credited with saving a teenage boy from drowning Tuesday night at the Widmyer Park pool in Hancock.

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"I would not call myself a hero. That is what we are here for," said Sarah Dawson, 19.

Dawson said she is home for the summer from the College of Charleston, S.C., and is working three jobs.

Although this is her first year as a lifeguard, when faced with a tough situation Dawson reacted exactly as she had been trained, Pool Manager Bill Sterner said.

The boy, whose name was unavailable, came down the pool's 14-foot water slide around 7:15 p.m. and was in the pool's deep end, Sterner said.


Another man went down the slide after the boy and they collided, Dawson said. "We think that knocked the wind out of him," she said

When the boy did not resurface, she jumped in and pulled him out, Dawson said.

"He was spasming and his eyes were rolled up into his head. He was not immediately conscious," she said.

Just as she was about to begin CPR, the teenager started spitting up water, she said.

"It was pretty scary but he was OK," Dawson said.

His family thanked her for the rescue and they were very emotional, she said.

The teenager was later taken by Hancock Rescue Squad to War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

The teenager is a cyclist in the Carrollton Bank Cycle Across Maryland Tour.

"I am super proud of her," said her father, Mac Dawson. "She is a special kid. She has a lot of talent."

Sterner said he is proud of the response by Dawson and others at the pool.

"The entire staff reacted just the way that they should," he said.

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