By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
Quick thinking and equally fast action probably helped prevent a tragedy on July 6 at Wavering Aquatic Center.
Nate Gilbert, who was poolside with Zach Bunch, Casey Cox and other friends, was celebrating his 13th birthday one minute -- and the next, he was in the water helping keep lifeguard Chris Schoonover afloat.
Schoonover had fainted while sitting in the hot sun and tumbled off his lifeguard chair into the water. He also hit the side of the pool on the way down, opening a cut on his head.
"We saw (Schoonover) slump forward and fall into the water," said Cindy Gilbert, Nate's mom. "Nate jumped in, and Zach and others began calling for help."
Nate said he and Zach were heading to sit down when the incident unfurled.
"I was closest, so I jumped in the water and held his head up," Nate said. "I saw he had a cut on his head."
While yelling for help, Zach, 13, said he noticed Schoonover had "blood on his head."
Fellow lifeguards rushed to Schoonover's aid and took the necessary safety measures.
"We weren't big enough to get (Schoonover) out of the water," Nate said.
Ed Seger, executive director of the Quincy Park District, said Schoonover later said he had likely let himself get dehydrated on a hot day and began experiencing dizziness.
Schoonover is now back at work.
"We were proud of what the boys did," said Kelle Bunch, Zach's mother. "They've been friends for a long time. We were happy to see how they responded when someone needed help."