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Jennifer Johnson, Forum News Service, Published July 18 2013

Pregnant Manvel woman given bravery award for teen’s river rescue

MANVEL, N.D. - Two months ago, when Meghan Marshall was driving near here and saw a vehicle ahead of her plunge into a fast-moving river and go under, she immediately stopped her car to help.

Marshall, of Manvel, was six months pregnant as she coached the car’s driver, Shyanne Anderson, 15, to swim toward the bank of the Turtle River and pulled her out.

Marshall said the thought of not helping never occurred to her.

“It takes paramedics or even first responders a long time (to arrive), so she would have been gone or down the river or still knocked out or something,” she said. “And I didn’t know how many people were in that vehicle, so not stopping would have never been an option.”

Marshall’s risk to her own life, as well as that of her unborn child, was the reason the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department awarded her a certificate of bravery Wednesday during a small ceremony, said Sheriff Bob Rost. It’s the first time the department has given the award like that on behalf of the North Dakota Peace Officers Association, he said.

“This is just an exceptional case,” he said.

The accident happened quickly.

Anderson was driving 35 mph, about two miles south of Manvel, on a road that had fresh gravel. She started to swerve then tried to overcorrect her steering, which caused her to lose control of the vehicle, hit the bridge and plunge into the river, she said.

“When Meghan got out to check, there was only like six inches of (Anderson’s) car sticking out of the water, and there was a current, too, with all of the rain we had gotten,” Rost said.

Marshall said she just began dialing 911 when she saw Anderson’s head emerge from the water. She told the girl to move toward the bank and grab a hold of some grass to prevent from drifting into the swollen river.

“I didn’t panic,” said Marshall, a mother of two children. “The mom part of me kicked in, and I told myself this was business. If I would have panicked, she would have panicked, then we both would have been in trouble.”

Marshall continued to coach Anderson toward a part of the river bank that wasn’t as muddy and pulled her out. She took the girl back to her vehicle and gave her a sweater, advising her to stay calm and remain as still as possible while they waited for first responders to arrive.

Anderson, who ended up receiving only a few scrapes and bruises, said she didn’t remember hitting the bridge or going into the water.

“I feel lucky,” she said. “I’m glad to be here.”

Her mother, Stacey Skold of Emerado, N.D., was one of several family members who appeared at the county office building for the ceremony. She started to cry as she talked about getting the call from Marshall.

“Thank God for Meghan, that’s all I have to say,” she said. “Meghan said, ‘Your daughter’s fine, she was in a bad accident and the car’s submerged.’ You about want to have a heart attack right there.

“You never want that phone call. I got lucky.”

Anderson said she has driven a few times since the accident but gets nervous about driving and avoids gravel. Since the accident, she “appreciates things more,” she said.

Marshall, who is due in August, was appreciative of the praise she’d received from the sheriff’s department. Rost told her during the ceremony that not many people would have done what she had.

“I hope they would,” she said.