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Wildlife agent rescues, revives Baton Rouge 7-year-old who nearly drowned; 9 pulled from sinking boat in Grand Isle

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GRAND ISLE - A wildlife and fisheries agent dove under a sinking boat in Grand Isle to save a child who nearly drowned over the weekend. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Sgt. Stephen Rhodes' was patrolling a beach around 6:40 p.m. Saturday when he spotted the capsizing vessel. 

Good Samaritans offered their ATV to help Rhodes reach his patrol boat. They also helped Rhodes launch his vessel, getting him on the water and heading toward the sinking boat as quickly as possible.

Rhodes found eight people crowded on the hull. They told him a 7-year-old girl was still missing in the water.

Rhodes loaded the eight victims into his patrol vessel and flagged down a passing boater to help keep his vessel in place while he jumped into the water to find the girl. He found her under the sinking boat and was able to pull her to the surface, but she was unresponsive. Rhodes performed CPR and was able to get the girl breathing again.

It was a moment Rhodes said he will never forget. 

"Putting my hand on her chest and feeling her heart beating, I will never forget that moment, ever," Rhodes said. 

He went on to say that he had "front row seats to a miracle" that day. 

All nine people were taken back to shore where EMS was waiting. 

The girl was airlifted to a children's hospital in New Orleans where she is expected to make a full recovery.


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