Lawrence woman rescues boy from Clinton Lake

photo by: Megan Hiebert

Mandy Dreiling and her 9-year-old son, Jesse Spates, are pictured Saturday, June 5, 2021, at Clinton Lake, after Dreiling rescued a young boy from drowning in the lake. The owner of Clinton Marina took the photo and gave Dreiling dry clothes after the incident.

A peaceful day fishing turned traumatic Saturday afternoon as a Lawrence woman rescued a drowning boy from Clinton Lake.

The woman, Mandy Dreiling, said she had taken her 9-year-old son, Jesse Spates, to the lake for its “free fishing” day. They had just settled in with their new poles and fresh bait along the cove near Clinton Marina when she spotted a young boy playing in the water. As she looked for adults nearby who might be with him, the boy stepped into a dropoff and disappeared.

Panicked, Dreiling immediately jumped into the water, her purse still strapped to her shoulder, and made her way to the boy.

“I just ran to him and pulled him out,” she said.

He was scared and crying, she said. Meanwhile, her own son, watching frightened from the shore, ran to the marina for help.

“I was scared because she was struggling in the water,” Jesse told the Journal-World, adding that he was proud of what his mom had done.

“She saved that young boy’s life, there’s no doubt,” said Megan Hiebert, who owns the marina.

A man who identified himself as the boy’s father but didn’t give a name approached Dreiling after the incident, thanked her and left, Dreiling said.

He had been fishing and “was way too far away” to have reached the boy in time, she said.

“He said that his kid had a life jacket on,” she added, but he must have taken it off at some point. Dreiling estimated that the boy was no older than 6.

The marina gave her some dry clothes and her son some ice cream.

“She was just grabbing clothes off the shelf, saying ‘What size do you wear?'” Dreiling said of Hiebert’s generosity.

“She came over completely drenched,” Hiebert said, noting that Dreiling lost her purse in the ordeal.

With help from the marina, Dreiling was eventually able to recover the purse and her and her son’s cellphones, which now don’t work. Her various cards and ID weren’t recovered.

“She didn’t care about any of that,” Hiebert said. “She saved that little boy, and that’s just innate goodness.”


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