The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Two SBCC students save 9-year-old from drowning in harbor

From Left, City College Students Fulton Lankenau and Baraa Alkassir tell the story of the day they saved a 9-year-old girl from drowning on Tuesday, April 11, at the Sandspit in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Lankenau and Alkassir also attempted to save the life of Crescencio Ramos, a 33-year-old who had jumped into the water to save the little girl. Lankenau and Alkassir both performed CPR until paramedics arrived but Ramos was pronounced dead at the scene.

City College students Baraa Alkassir and Fulton Lankenau saved a 9-year-old-girl from drowning in the Santa Barbara Harbor, Thursday, March 30.

Crescencio Ramos, a 33-year-old Mexican immigrant and Santa Barbara resident of 12 years, was the first to swim out to buoy No. 7 to save the girl who appeared in distress. He drowned in his attempt.

Alkassir and Lankenau, noticed the situation and immediately jumped into the water. Despite a strong current, the two friends were able to reach the girl in time and brought her safely back to shore.

The Channels conducted interviews with the students to hear their first-hand account of the incident. The following information is presented based on the interview.

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Alkassir came to the beach with a friend, and Lankenau was joined by his girlfriend. The four of them came to Sandspit that Thursday to enjoy the last leg of their spring break before school started up again. It was around 5 p.m. Waves crashed against the breakwater and the salty ocean breeze blew over the harbor. It was warm outside, but the wind made everything feel “comfortable,” Lankenau said.

Sandspit was relatively empty at the time. A few surfers and a family enjoying a day at the beach were the only people in the area. The students said that the group sat down on the west side of the beach, closer to the harbor and the path leading out there.

They had only just exchanged “heys” and “hellos” when Lankenau noticed a man down at the point, waving his arms frantically at the group, calling them over to the other side of the rock barrier. Lankenau doesn’t remember exactly what the man said, or if he spoke at all. Even without words, the message was clear.

“It was more just facial expression, you know,” Lankenau said. “Like, ‘I need help.’”

The pair bolted over to the family’s position, finding a desperate scene: a 9-year old girl stuck out in the water, struggling to stay afloat. Ramos was out in the water too, but his greater distance from the shore made him much more difficult to spot.

Alkassir and Lankenau dove into the frigid water and made a beeline for the girl. One of them took her left arm, and the other took her right. After a few minutes of paddling, all three of them arrived back on shore. That’s when they realized Ramos was still out there.

“When we got out [of the water], we figured out that there was somebody else who needed to be saved,” said Alkassir.

Lankenau returned to the water and, with the help of a nearby surfer, brought Ramos back onto the beach. It was at this point that they called 911. Harbor patrol arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the initial call.

During that time, Lankenau and Alkassir attempted to revive Ramos through CPR.

“When me and Baraa were doing mouth-to-mouth, before the harbor patrol got there, we kept checking for his pulse,” said Lankenau.  “We swear we had a couple pulses.”

But, after a few minutes of pumping the man’s chest, and watching as a combination of foam and water poured from his mouth, Ramos’s eyes rolled back, the students said.

When the paramedics arrived, they too attempted to revive Ramos. Several minutes later, they pronounced him dead.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Ramos’s family. To date, the community has raised more than $22,000 to “help aide his young children and to fulfill his wish of returning his remains to his hometown in Mexico,” according to the site.




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