Hart girl’s heroic actions land her on ‘Good Morning America’

July 8, 2014
Amanda Galindo, 12, of Hart, appeared on "Good Morning America" Monday after helping rescue family members and friends from a boat stranded in the Grand River.

Amanda Galindo, 12, of Hart, appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday after helping rescue family members and friends from a boat stranded in the Grand River.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — Amanda Galindo, 12, appeared on “Good Morning America” Monday after saving her parents and friends from a stranded boat on the Grand River on the Fourth of July.

A fun-filled night of boating and watching the fireworks with family and friends quickly turned into a harrowing experience. A total of 15 people were on the 20-foot pontoon boat. All of the adults on the boat are deaf, including Amanda’s parents, Melissa and Sam Galindo. There were two other children on the boat, including Amanda’s 13-year-old brother Earl and a 9-year-old boy.

The boaters got lost on their homeward journey after boating from Spring Lake to Grand Haven to watch the fireworks. They ran out of gas, and then their electrical system failed. No lights in the watery darkness made everyone panic. “It was pitch black and getting really foggy,” Amanda said. At about 1 a.m., Amanda called 911 for help. She remained on the phone with emergency personnel for several hours until help finally arrived. She used three different cell phones as each phone’s battery died during the extensive conversations with emergency staff.

“The water was super cold,” Amanda said. “The fog was really bad, and I was really

Amanda Galindo with members of the U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven.

Amanda Galindo with members of the U.S. Coast Guard in Grand Haven.

scared.” Amanda said she and others on the overcrowded boat were worried that they were going to tip over due to people panicking and running around on board. There were only four life jackets aboard, she said. The water was shallow where they were stuck on tree roots, but there was a steep drop-off nearby where the water was very deep.

The boaters were wet, cold, tired and hungry. Also, several of them needed to take

their regularly prescribed medications.

Other boats passed them initially, but no one bothered to stop and help, Amanda said. The wake from the passing boats caused their stranded vessel to rock dangerously.

The group having fun aboard the 20-foot pontoon before trouble struck.

A tow boat initially responded, but was unable to tow the pontoon in the shallow water. The tow boat stayed at the scene with its lights on until a U.S. Coast Guard inflatable ice skiff arrived. The skiff is normally used for winter rescues, but the Coast Guard had to be resourceful in order to get the group to safety. The sun was beginning to rise when the stranded boaters finally arrived on land at their hotel. They had to go in groups of three due to the rescue boat’s small size. Amanda — who needed to stay on board the pontoon as a translator for the other hearing-impaired boaters — was one of the last ones off the stuck vessel. Her mom stayed back with her. No one was hurt in the several-hours-long boating mishap.

“I never thought they would be able to get us,” Amanda recalled. “I started crying at the end because I didn’t think they were coming. Then, when I saw that banana boat, I said, ‘Oh thank the Lord.’”

It was ironic that a “banana boat” is what ultimately saved them, because Amanda loves bananas, her mom said. Another irony is that the

The gnarly log that the boat became stuck upon.

The gnarly tree root that the boat became stuck upon.

Sherry Nordhoff and Shelly Nicholas, both of Twin Lake, are two of the dozen of deaf boaters aboard the stranded vessel. Both of their cell phones were used in the rescue, along with a third phone.

Sherry Nordhoff and Shelly Nicholas, both of Twin Lake, are two of the dozen of deaf boaters aboard the stranded vessel. Both of their cell phones were used in the rescue, along with a third phone.

shape of the roots that the boat was stuck on resemble the sign language sign for “I love you.”

“It feels really good,” Amanda said of her recent hero and celebrity status. Her Facebook account has been exploding with congratulations from friends since her TV appearance. She was interviewed by an ABC producer from New York at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Station Sunday. The segment aired on GMA Monday morning. “I was also on ABC News and I’m on You Tube,” she said. “I started jumping up and down when ‘Good Morning America’ called.”

The Coast Guard officers congratulated her and made sure to let her know she’s a hero. They gave her a Coast Guard hat as sign of their appreciation.

When asked if she ever wants to go boating again, the Hart Middle School seventh grader said, “I don’t want to go on a boat with that many people again.”

“I’m just really proud of her,” said Amanda’s mom. “What would we have done without her?”

To view the GMA segment, go to http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/coast-guard-rescues-stranded-boat-12-year-girl-2444911

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