A 4-year-old boy who fell into a sewer was saved by a fast-acting tween who watched the accident unfold.
On Sunday, Shayna Sykes and her sons, Nolan and Rowan, attended church at the Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota. After the service, the boys joined other children running around on the lawn.
"They were racing, so I shouted after them, 'Stay where I can see you!'" Sykes told NBC affiliate television station KARE 11 News in Minneapolis. "A couple of the other moms laughed and they were like, 'Oh, he’s with the herd, he’s fine.'"
However, minutes later, disaster struck: Rowan fell into an open manhole leading into the sewer.
Fortunately, 12-year-old Sadie Peterson witnessed the accident, having just seen kids curiously lifting up the manhole cover.
“I yelled at them to get away from there and Rowan was trying to kick it down because he knew that it was the wrong thing to do,” Sadie told KARE.
So when Rowan fell in, Sadie burst into action. “I didn’t even think at all because I was over there — I just ran,” she explained.
Leaning into the hole with half of her body, Sadie reached for Rowan, who had fallen an estimated 4 or 5 feet underground.
“Eventually I grabbed his hand and pulled him over and I got him to the point where his face wasn’t under water,” she said.
Sadie hung onto Rowan while his brother ran to get help, KARE reported.
“I thought I was going to slip and let him go (accidentally),” Sadie told the station. “I was so far deep down that I thought I was going to fall in.”
Rowan’s mom ran over, panicked. “I’m picturing the worst, that my baby is dead,” she told KARE. “We got there and I saw his head above the water, gasping.”
Another adult named Tim Dubois lifted him out.
"We just sat here on the grass covered in poop and waste and I just held him and rocked him and cried and cried," said Sykes.
According to KARE, Rowan suffered a few bruises. His parents took him to the hospital, where doctors advised them to stay alert for symptoms that could indicate pneumonia from potentially breathing in feces.
Sadie’s mom, Stacy Peterson, praised her daughter's nimbleness.
"She’s in Girl Scouts," Peterson said. "We talk about helping people, we do our first aid, we do our safety badge. But we’ve never actually had to use it."
There's more reason to celebrate: Sadie’s heroism took place on her 12th birthday.
"You were exactly where you were supposed to be and you are exactly who God created you to be,” Sykes told Sadie. “And you saved him. I don’t think he’d be here if you weren’t here today. But I’m so thankful."