BRISTOL, N.H. (CBS) – Three children are alive because of one woman. But that isn’t why she’s sharing her story. She wants everyone to know what drowning can really look like.
Nestled in the woods along New Hampshire’s Smith River in Bristol, you’ll find a swimming hole and Profile Falls.
That’s where Christine Lemieux was swimming when she saw a man and his three children in distress on Monday. She jumped into action and saved the three children, but their father drowned while trying to rescue them.
Lemieux and her seven children were only at the swimming hole for about 30 minutes when something went wrong.
“When I turned around I saw some kids that looked like they were playing ‘Marco Polo’ and then I noticed they weren’t playing anymore,” she recalled. “I just saw one little girl’s hands going up and down – just straight – like you said, no splashing, and that’s when I swam over and I knew something was terribly wrong.”
Thai Chinh and three of his four children were drowning.
“I grabbed the two little girls that had been under the water for a long time. They were pale, but they were breathing and they were scared,” said Lemieux, who then went back for the little boy. “I was afraid he was already gone.”
Lemieux performed CPR until 8-year-old boy took his first breath.
“They were praying. I helped them pray and they were asking God if their daddy wouldn’t drown,” said Lemieux.
But the children’s 39-year-old father never resurfaced.
“I can’t believe how silently the children were drowning. I never realized that drowning could be so subtle. The poor children weren’t making any noise, they weren’t splashing, nobody was calling for help.”
For the Lemieux family, this breathtaking spot will never be the same.
“The vacation was handed to us as a gift and we weren’t supposed to come yesterday,” said Lemieux. “I really feel strongly that we were supposed to be here to help. It gives me some consolation.”
All three children are expected to recover after the incident.