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'It didn't look right,' says teen who helped save toddler at Fargo hotel pool

FARGO -- When Sophie Hackman, a 13-year-old from Velva, N.D., saw a young girl at the bottom of the deep end of the pool at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, she knew something was wrong.

“It didn’t look right. She looked way too young to be in that part of the pool,” Hackman said.

Hackman said the little girl appeared to be trying to use her toes to bounce off the bottom of the pool but couldn’t reach the surface.

“I just grabbed her when I realized that,” said Hackman, one of two teenagers Fargo police credit with possibly saving the little girl’s life on Saturday, Feb. 18.  

Fargo police said Sunday they were still investigating the incident, which was reported about 9 p.m. Saturday.

The 3-year-old victim was turning blue and clearly in distress when she was pulled from the water, Fargo police Sgt. Mike Sanden said. The toddler vomited and coughed up water after the teenagers pulled her from the pool, Sanden said.

He said after the girl, who is from Fargo, was looked at by ambulance workers and the Fargo Fire Department, her parents took her to a hospital to be checked out.

It was a busy night at the hotel, and the pool was close to capacity at the time, said Sanden, who said it's likely the two teens saved the 3-year-old from suffering serious harm.

Sanden declined to release the names of the teens, who were initially identified Saturday night as being 16 years old, as the case was still under investigation.

Hackman, however, said the other teen rescuer was her friend, Lizzy Massine. She said after she pulled the girl out of the water, she asked Massine to find the girl’s parents and to call for help.

“We couldn’t find the parents,” Hackman said, adding that she was relieved and happy when it appeared the little girl would be OK.

The toddler, who told the teenagers she was 4 years old, was blue and pale and coughed up water, Hackman said.

“I’m so glad I was there at the right time,” said Hackman, who was in town because her brother was competing in the state wrestling tournament that concluded in Fargo on Saturday.