One of two teens injured in a watercraft crash Tuesday on Lake Wylie is being hailed as a hero for her potentially life-saving actions in pulling the other from the water, police said.
The girl's actions may have saved the life of the second girl who was unconscious in the water after the incident, police said.
The girl who assisted the other kept the unconscious girl's head above the water line and pulled her to shore as emergency medical officials and other responders were arriving, said Lance Cpl. Jeff Vissage of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
"One victim may have saved the other's life," said Vissage, lead investigator of the crash. "The other girl could have drowned."
She kept the other girl's airway open, Vissage said.
The two girls involved in the incident around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the lake off a peninsula on the lake's western edge in Big Allison Creek area have not been identified. Both girls are younger than age 15 and are not related, investigators say. The girls are neighbors and friends, Vissage said.
The girl who assisted the other was treated and released from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte after the incident, Vissage said.
The second girl remains at CMC, Vissage said.
Newport firefighters, York County Sheriff's Office boat patrol deputies, Piedmont Medical Center EMS crews and Carolina Dive and Rescue also responded, said Trish Startup, York County spokesperson.
Both girls had successfully completed a boater safety course required for any operator younger than age 16 on South Carolina waterways, DNR officials said.
It is unclear how the girls were injured or what caused the watercraft to slam into a retaining wall, DNR investigators said.
The two girls had been riding on the personal watercraft and then at some point, the craft slammed into a retaining wall, investigators said.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the girls were on the watercraft when it hit the wall, or if they had been knocked from the craft before it slammed into the rock and concrete wall.
"The damage to the watercraft matches the damage to the retaining wall, but what we are trying to determine is if there was something that happened before the craft hit the wall," Vissage said.
Because of the injuries to both girls, DNR law enforcement investigators have not been able to fully interview both teens. Police have not found any witnesses.
"Something could have happened prior to the craft hitting the wall," said Lt. Shean Coates with DNR. "That's why we hope we can find someone who saw anything out there."
Police have requested a manufacturer's representative for the craft involved to assist in downloading onboard computer data to determine speed at the time of impact. Police also are investigating if mechanical factors may have been involved.
Anyone with information on the crash can call DNR law enforcement dispatch at 1-800-922-5431.