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Waco Fire: Portrait of Courage | Baylor student rescued from creek as a teen finally meets his heroes

Dylan Ostlund was 14 years old when he nearly drowned in a flooded Harris Creek. Seven years later, he finally got to thank his heroes at the Waco Fire Department.

WACO, Texas — It's been seven years since a 14-year-old had to be rescued by Waco Fire Department from the flooded waters of Harris Creek off U.S. Highway 84.

Dylan Ostlund was playing near the creek with his friends in March of 2016, when he suddenly slipped and was stuck in a culvert.

"Once I was stuck, I just screamed for help and my friends came and saw that I was stranded in there and helped me out a little bit," the now 21-year-old Baylor student recalled, "They just held my head up above the water, but yeah there was definitely just a moment of panic and I was scared. I thought I was gonna die for sure.”

Ostlund was submerged up to his nose in the creek and that was even with people holding him up.

Scott Salmans, who lives very close to the creek, was at the scary scene in a matter of seconds after hearing Dylan and his friends screaming for help.

"I just jumped in, got underneath him and held his arm up on one side," Salmans explained. "I remember grabbing ahold of him and he said 'you're hurting my arm, you're hurting my arm' and I said 'I'm not letting you go."

Salmans told 6 News he could tell the suction of the water was very strong, but he couldn't figure out how to get Dylan out. He needed more help to save the teen.

"My biggest fear was that he might slide down further into the hole and then be stuck underwater," he said.

Dylan would need the well trained men of the Waco Fire Department to save him and give him the chance at life.

"Call came in, possible drowning, teenage person stuck in a storm drain," Lt. Mike Herbert recalled. "We get these types of calls periodically and it could be anything and most of the time it's a false alarm."

Herbert and two of his colleagues, rolled up on the scene at Harris Creek to learn this was not a false alarm, it was the real deal.

"You don't have time to come up with a plan," the 30-year veteran explained. "I actually went underwater and bent his foot back the way it's not supposed to go and pulled on him at the same time, and that led to the wedge and he was able to get out then."

Herbert said the force and suction of the water in the culvert was the perfect elements for Dylan to get stuck. Once Herbert was able to figure out how to save him, Dylan was treated on the ambulance and then sent home to be with family.

"They were so good, so trained, so intelligent and so quick that they figured out exactly how to get him out. He was stuck," said Sandor Ostlund, Dylan's dad.

Sandor had gotten to the scene when Dylan was being pulled from the water. He remembers the fear of not knowing what was going on, but the relief he felt knowing there was a group of "angels" saving his son.

"Just incredibly grateful for these people," Sandor Ostlund said. "We're people of faith and God wasn't done with him. He has big things to do. I think about this periodically, just watching him thrive and life is a great joy and [Dylan] was given an opportunity to say thanks to these firefighters.”

As a first responder you hardly get the closure on the calls you respond to, but sometimes they can catch up to you.

Seven years after his rescue, Dylan met two of his three heroes at Waco Fire Station 1. He got to thank them and ask them questions about the rescue. Dylan said there was a lot he had forgotten.

Herbert said it was a fantastic feeling to see Dylan as a successful student years after the scary situation. They discussed the importance of always respecting water. 

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