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12-year-old girl helps save Buffalo boy after he falls into manhole

Sadie Peterson, 12, saw Rowan Sykes, 4, fall into a manhole on Sunday and immediately ran to his rescue.

BUFFALO, Minnesota — A girl named Sadie is being called a hero after her quick thinking helped save a boy's life in Buffalo, Minnesota.

On Sunday, Shayna Sykes and her two sons, Nolan and Rowan, attended church in Buffalo. It was their third time going to Connection Pointe, which was using the grounds at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church. 

"We went to church like normal. The kids loved it. They're running around," Sykes recalled. 

Sykes was paying close attention to her sons when they started racing with other kids. 

"I shouted after them, 'Stay where I can see you!' A couple of the other moms laughed and were like, 'Oh, he's with the herd; he's fine,'" said Sykes, who was located in the church's backyard. 

It had been less than three minutes when Nolan came running around the corner yelling for help. 

"He's like, 'Rowan fell into a sewer' and I don't even know what happened after that," Sykes said. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
12-year-old Sadie Peterson of Rockford, Minn.

But 12-year-old Sadie Peterson of Rockford does. 

Sadie saw kids playing in the area in the front of the church, lifting up a manhole cover. 

"I yelled at them to get away from there and Rowan was trying to kick it down because he knew that it was the wrong thing to do," Sadie recalled. 

That's when Sadie saw Rowan fall in to the sewer hole. She ran over and immediately tried to grab his hand. 

The manhole cover is now secure but Sykes guesses it was a four- to five-foot drop. KARE 11 reached out to the church to find out why it was able to be removed. The Wright County Sheriff's Office has also interviewed both families about the incident. 

Sadie said Rowan was moving away from the main opening, adding, "Eventually I grabbed his hand and pulled him over and then got him to the point where his face wasn't underwater." 

As Sadie was holding on to the child's arm, his brother ran to his mom for help. 

"Scary. I thought I was going to slip and let him go on accident and then I was so far deep down that I thought I was going to fall in," Sadie said. 

Sykes came running over. 

"I could see half of her body in a hole and I'm picturing the worst, like my baby's dead," Sykes said. "I got there and I saw his head kind of above the water like gasping and she's holding him." 

At the same time Sykes got there a man named Tim Dubois was lifting the kids out. 

"He was covered... I mean... submerged, covered in sewage and sludge and feces. I just sat on the ground, hugged him, and cried and cried," Sykes said. 

Credit: Shayna Sykes
Rowan has a couple of bruises on his cheek, head and arm

Rowan was taken to the hospital and is doing much better. He has a couple of bruises on his cheek, head and arm. However, Sykes said her son does not like talking about what happened. Sykes and her husband will have to monitor his health to see if he aspirated any feces, which could show up as pneumonia in five to seven days. 

"I am just proud of her for just jumping into it," said Sadie's mom, Stacy Peterson. "I know she's in Girl Scouts and so... we talk about helping people. We do our first aid, we do our safety badge, but we've never had to use it." 

Sadie not only helped save a life, she did it on her golden birthday. 

"You were exactly where you were supposed to be and you are exactly who God created you to be," Sykes told Sadie. "You saved him and I don't think he'd be here if you weren't here. I'm so thankful that God put you here today." 

As a thank you, Sykes has created a GoFundMe for Sadie to use however she would like. Sadie said she would love to get a bow for hunting. 

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