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Published July 10 2010

5-year-old Gwinner girl involved in near-drowning dies

A 5-year-old girl who was rescued from a Richland County pond in a near-drowning incident Wednesday died Friday morning.

Jade Curtis-Dean of Gwinner, N.D., died about 3 a.m., according to her stepgreat-aunt, Joyce Bjork of Forman, N.D., and MeritCare Hospital spokesman Darren Huber.

An unattributed message Friday on the girl’s CaringBridge website stated:

“I would like to take this time to thank everyone who was there for Jade. All the prayers and visits, comments, and support. Unfortunately Jade passed away this morning at 3:00 a.m. She went into cardiac arrest twice and she just could not take CPR for the third time. So her daddy and her mom made the hardest decision of their lives which was to let her rest. We love her so much and again thanks to everyone.”

Jade had been on a ventilator and fighting severe pneumonia while in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit at Fargo MeritCare Children’s Hospital, according to the website.

On Wednesday, she was swimming in Mooreton Pond, a small man-made lake along Interstate 29 about 37 miles south of Fargo. A relative who was watching her at the time turned away briefly to yell at her dog, and when she turned back, Jade was gone, according to a witness and law enforcement.

People at the pond began searching for the girl. After about 10 minutes, she was found underwater by 20-year-old Steve Huotari of Fargo.

Huotari said he and his mother performed CPR on the girl for about eight minutes until law enforcement and paramedics arrived to take over.

A Richland County sheriff’s deputy who performed CPR on the girl said it was at least another five minutes before she regained a pulse.

“It’s sad,” Bjork said. “She was such a darling little girl.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528