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Saturday, November 5, 2011

MCHS graduate a hero by saving woman from drowning in Boston

Courage and quick thinking helped a 2011 Montgomery Central High School graduate save a woman from drowning in Boston's Charles River last month.

Daniel Howell said he was walking along the river around 1 a.m. on Oct. 9 with some friends, including a woman from a nearby college who had just met Howell the day before.

Howell said she had been drinking, and she stopped at a dock behind the university's sailing pavilion to vomit into the Charles River.

As she bent over the edge of a dock, she lost her balance and toppled into the river, Howell said.

When she didn't immediately resurface, Howell said his instinct took over. Without stopping to think about the temperature of the water or any other dangers, he took off his shirt and shoes and jumped in after her.

"I was yelling for somebody to get in the water and help me look, but nobody got in," he said, adding that there were about 25 people on the dock, including five of his friends.

Howell said once he realized there was no current, he began searching with his feet in the cold water. As the 6-foot-tall freshman at Boston University waded out from the bank, he said the depth of the water went from about five feet to just over his head.

Finally, after about two minutes of searching, Howell found the girl with his feet and immediately dove down to pull her unconscious body to the surface. Others came over to help him pull her out of the water, but the girl was still in danger.

"I got out of the water and everybody was yelling 'does anyone know CPR?' " recalled Howell, a pre-med student seeking a biology degree. "I was like, 'I know CPR.' "

Howell's mother, Brenda Langloss, is a nurse in the emergency room at Gateway Medical Center, but his CPR training actually came from a court order he received after he was caught speeding when he was 17.

Montgomery County Juvenile Court director Larry Ross said that sentence stemmed from a program the county started eight years ago, and Langloss said she called the courts to give them "kudos" for making her son take the class that may have saved a woman's life.

Jennifer Mehigan, Boston Emergency Medical Services Director of Media Relations, said emergency medical technicians and paramedics were called to the scene of the incident at 1:07 a.m., and Howell said they arrived just a couple minutes after he started performing CPR. Mehigan said the woman was taken to a hospital at 1:44.

Langloss said the woman is back at school and, though she doesn't remember the incident at all, she was obviously grateful for Howell's efforts.

"He has a great big heart," Langloss said. "It doesn't surprise me that he helped someone like that."

Boston University spokesman Colin Riley praised Howell's character and cooperation with police after the incident, which Riley said illustrated the dangers of excessive drinking.

"It's just a very telling story considering she wasn't feeling well and she probably would have drowned if he hadn't been there," Riley said.

Luke Thompson, 245-0248 lukethompson@