Tracy Carpenter (right) reunites with Emma Parton, 10, a day after she rescued the girl from the Fox River. Part had fallen in an area of rapid current and was struggling to keep her head above water after getting her foot caught in some rocks. (Photo by Chad Hensiak)

Woman recounts rescue of girl floundering in river

By Chad Hensiak


When Bohners Lake resident Tracy Carpenter heard screaming on Aug. 2 about a girl who had fallen into the Fox River, she flew into action.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. that day, Carpenter was at the Burlington Dog Park when a girl ran to her exclaiming her friend had fallen into the river. Seconds later Carpenter heard Emma Parton, 10, screaming for help.

“I did not think ­– I dialed 911, handed my phone to a friend, and ran towards Emma’s voice,” Carpenter said.

Parton said she was walking along a steep part of the riverbank with two of her friends when she slipped on some loose rocks and fell into the Fox River. The current where Emma fell in was strong and she was quickly swept downstream.

Parton said while she was trying to tread water her foot got stuck between two rocks at the bottom of the river. She then found herself struggling to keep her head above water.

“Once I reached Emma She was in at least five feet of water,” Carpenter said. “I was able to get her foot free by getting it out of her shoe. I then swam her to safety on an island after pausing in a shallow spot while holding onto a metal beam of some kind in the water.

“Once we reached the safety of the island I realized Emma had swallowed a lot of water and was exhausted from her struggle, so I just held her close until first responders were able to get to us.”

The City of Burlington Fire Department and members of the Burlington Rescue Squad lowered a ladder down to the island from the abandoned railroad bridge spanning the river. Rescuers placed Parton and Carpenter in harnesses and then climbed the ladder with them onto the safety of the railroad bridge.

Parton was taken to Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington and released in good health shortly after.

To read the full story see the Aug. 9 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.