“Weight was too much, they slipped out of our hand, disappeared" - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

“The weight was too much and they slipped out of our hand and disappeared”

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Two weeks after the tragedy at Falls Park, the first person on the scene shares details on the incident that took the lives of two heroes attempting to save six-year-old Garrett Wallace. 

Garrett's 16-year-old sister Madison Wallace and Lyle Eagle Tail, 28, were found in the river at Falls Park days after Garrett's accident. 

The rescue and recovery attempt has had a profound affect on everyone involved, but there are still many unanswered questions about what happened before police were on the scene. 

"Nobody really knew what happened and I figured this would be some good clarification for the families," said Cory Lawrence, another hero at the Falls who nearly suffered the same fate as Madison and Lyle.  He risked his life and even gave the shirt off his back to help a stranger in need. 

Here is his story: 

When Garrett fell into the Falls, it was the first nice day of the year. So, like many people, Cory Lawrence and his college friend Melissa were walking around Falls Park, relaxing and even snapping a photo by the foam just minutes before the young boy fell in. 

"We were watching the kid the whole time, at that time, the foam was about a foot up over the edge of the rocks over here and the kid went to step onto the foam and disappeared. By the time I got down there, his sister had already gone in after him. She was no where to be seen," said Lawrence. 

Lawrence called 911 and began swinging his jacket through the foam, trying to find Madison and Garrett. 

"I heard the girl, so I tried to climb down the rock face, almost slipped in, grabbed onto the edge and my friend Melissa grabbed me and pulled me back up," said Lawrence. 

That's when Lyle Eagle Tail came running up to help from across the park. 

"He jumped right into help. He was a strong-minded person. He knew what was right and what we had to do. He offered to have me and my friend lower him down but to hold onto him, so we lowered him down, gave him my friend's jacket in his left hand and the girl grabbed onto the jacket. At first he was like, pull me up, pull me up, but then he's like wait a minute, she's on my legs, I've got her, I've got her hold on."  

"So he stood there for about a minute as she gripped onto his legs and then he's like alright pull me up. We tried to pull him up. The weight was too much, the current was strong. We both had his one arm and we tried to pull him up. We couldn't, so then we yelled, he's slipping we need help, somebody help!" 

"There were about 10, 15 people behind us, we yelled for help. One person came and grabbed onto my friends leg so she didn't get pulled in. Lyle sat there and yelled at his friend to grab his left arm and no body else came to help. We held on for about five minutes and the weight was too much and they slipped out of our hand and disappeared." 

"When they slipped out of my hand I went to jump in after them and Melissa grabbed me and told me not to go down there. That's when I realized that if I went down there, they'd probably we looking for third person."  

By not jumping in after them, Lawrence was able to find and rescue six-year-old Garrett. 

"Shortly after that I looked to my right and I saw the foam moving over to my left and I ran over there, saw the little boy, grabbed him, pulled him out of the foam, and carried him up here to safety. I gave him my shirt cause he was all wet. He had foam all over his face. He couldn't see. He was really wet and cold, so I brought him up here, I wiped his face off, gave him my shirt, because that was the only thing that was still dry on me, wrapped him up and we put him in the police car to keep him warm."  

It's been two weeks since that day. Lawrence said he has spoken with the fire chaplains and his friend Melissa to help him through this unimaginable ordeal.   

"I think about things that could have been done differently, but we had very little time to react in order to save the two. I just keep telling myself we did the best we could."  

"I think about it as if I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time, but I was in the right spot at the right time…cause if I wouldn't have seen it, nobody would have known that they were in the water, but these memories will always be here and unfortunately they're bad memories, but there is a good memory that the kid was able to be rescued."

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