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Two near drownings in two days in Austin area

The Austin area has had two near drownings in as many days. Friday, first responders pulled a man from Hamilton Pool and revived him with CPR. On Thursday, three men pulled a man to safety who nearly drowned in Lady Bird Lake downtown. (CBS Austin)

The Austin area has had two near drownings in as many days. Friday, first responders pulled a man from Hamilton Pool and revived him with CPR. On Thursday, three men pulled a man to safety who nearly drowned in Lady Bird Lake downtown.

One of the men who helped rescue the complete stranger on Thursday shared what it was like with CBS Austin.

Craig Harter said he and his fiancé were at the dog park at Auditorium Shores when they said they heard a man screaming. Harter rushed to the dock and saw a man go under the water several times.

"Just seeing him go down the third time thinking, oh he's not coming back up," Harter said.

Harter said he knew it was dangerous, but once two more men showed up they all decided to jump in together. "Basically he was screaming 'help! I can't make it. I can't make it,' and we were all just suspended here," Harter said.

A group of people formed on the dock at Lady Bird Lake, frozen because they knew how dangerous it would be to go after him. "I've never been a lifeguard, but everyone says it's really dangerous to go out there when someone is panicked," Harter said.

Austin Fire Department Division Chief Palmer Buck said it's not uncommon for the would-be rescuer to end up drowning. "Because the person who is drowning is going to do anything they can to stay afloat including pushing you under," Harter said.

So, Buck said, the choice to go in or not is all about how comfortable you are in your swimming ability.

Harter said he's not the best swimmer, but couldn't stand by and watch a man drown. "The third time he went down I was just waiting for someone to say 'let's do it' and thank God that third guy showed up because when he did I was right there with him. I couldn't just sit here and watch it. I couldn't have lived with myself," Harter said.

The three rescuers grabbed the man by his arms and legs. Harter said luckily he didn't panic, but getting him back to the bank wasn't easy. "Enough adrenaline can get you to do some amazing things. I'm not a swimmer so that was a lot for me," Harter said.

Harter said coming back today gave him chills, but he's proud of what he and the two strangers accomplished. "We just had to go get him. I couldn't just see him go down over and over who knows how many times until he doesn't come up," Harter said.

Harter said moments after they pulled the man out of the water, first responders wheeled him off. He said he didn't get to talk to the other two rescuers, but wants to thank them because he said if just one of them had gone in, it could've ended badly.

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