Heber City 11-year-old receives citizen awards for saving sister from drowning
After saving his big sister from drowning last weekend, an 11-year-old received two of the Heber City Police Department’s highest citizen honors.
Tristen Treu and his 14-year-old sister Maya were enjoying Sunday afternoon in a new inflatable pool when something unexpected caused a scary moment. Maya started having a seizure underwater.
Nathan Treu, their father, said Maya is okay now, just feeling sore and lethargic. She’s never experienced a health episode like this before.
“Tristen realized that she was underwater and something wasn't right,” the father said. “He ran over, was able to pull her head out of the water and wasn't quite strong enough to completely pull her out of the pool, so he yelled for help, and his mother came.”
Next, Ava Treu, the mother, tried to perform CPR but couldn’t get Maya’s mouth open. Nathan Treu arrived moments later; he helped get her breathing and put her in a recovery position. As a member of Wasatch County Search and Rescue, Nathan Treu is experienced in handling health emergencies.
Police officer Zac Hendricksen said he was taken aback when he arrived, recognized Nathan, then realized Maya was his daughter. His police alert had first reported the incident as a drowning.
“They already had everything under control,” Hendricksen said. “We just got everything prepared for EMS to take her to hospital. It definitely could have ended in a drowning, for sure. Thank goodness Tristan was paying attention and doing the right thing. It was just a super scary incident.”
Heber City Police Chief Dave Booth presented Tristen with two awards. One is the Busted award for a noteworthy, positive act. Booth said the Outstanding Citizen Award he also gave Tristen is to distinguish him as a hero in the community. He also invited him to apply for a job with Heber City Police in about 10 years.
After receiving those awards in his backyard next to the pool, Tristen said he was feeling better but still concerned for his sister.
“I’m happy and kind of a little scared because we don't know if it's gonna happen again,” Tristen said.
Tristen’s father and Booth said they were proud of the “unteachable” quick thinking and courage he showed. The 11-year-old said maybe one day, he would think about a career where he might save more people.
Booth called the near drowning a “perfect storm,” where no one was doing anything wrong whatsoever. He said it’s a reminder to always be as safe as possible in water.
Search and Rescue Captain Kam Kohler said that warning should apply to all types of water recreation this summer. Specifically, he asked people to wear life jackets in lakes and rivers.
“We want people to go out and have a great time. But don't be too macho to wear a jacket. It will get you home safe. In all the years that I've been doing search rescue, which is a lot, I've never had to recover anybody that was in a jacket. Every time, they overlooked the safety device, and it turned into a bad day for their family,” he said.
The Treu parents said the whole family, including a younger daughter and son, will need time to move past the traumatic event.