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Man drowning in Ann Arbor's Huron River saved by quick-thinking good Samaritans, first responders

Posted at 7:47 PM, Sep 25, 2023

ANN ARBOR (WXYZ) — Calls to 911 started to come in as good Samaritans tried to pulled a man out of the water after seeing him go down in the Huron River and not resurface.

"We're at the docks right now and there is a kid that was swimming and there is three people trying to look for him and they can't find him," one caller said.

At the same time, Margarita Howes, who spent the afternoon at Ann Arbor's Bandemer Park, began to hear the commotion and people saying a man had drowned.

Howes rushed over to the other side of the dock and began clearing an area where the man could be laid and she could start CPR.

"I'm throwing phones, I'm throwing backpacks, throwing towels, you know, just to clear a little area so we can put him there and assess him when he gets to the dock," she told 7 Action News.

It was Jamaine Atkins II whose body was pulled out of the water, and he's alive thanks to some quick-thinking kayakers and other good Samaritans including Howes who gave it their all to save him.

"I just remember leaving work early that day and from then on, it was blank," said Atkins, who doesn't remember much about the incident that nearly cost him his life.

He's just grateful to Howes for having learned CPR and the others who were quick to help save him, including first responders like Ann Arbor Police Department Officer Thomas Burnette.

Atkins spent about a week in the hospital and recently met some of his heroes when Ann Arbor city officials honored those involved in saving his life.

"It was very surreal," Atkins said. "I was just so glad to be able to say thank you in person, you know, shake their hand, give them a hug. It was nice."

Ann Arbor police posted a video of the events on their Facebook page Monday.

Howes said she first began her CPR training as a Girl Scout. She has since worked in the medical field and just started nursing school at Eastern Michigan University.

Howes, Atkins and Ann Arbor police and fire departments are now encouraging people to take the time to learn CPR.

"You never know when it's going to happen. You never know where it's going to happen," Howes said. "I wasn't expecting to do CPR on my first day off of work in a swimsuit on a dock. That's not something you expect to happen and plan for. You just have to have that knowledge and know how and when to use it."