Three La Porte City citizens were recognized for their heroic actions last week during an assembly held at Union High School by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg.

On June 23, lifeguards Megan Hudson and Richie Arteaga were on duty at the La Porte City Family Aquatic Center. Also at the pool that day was young Jace Keegan with his two older sisters. Not long after Jace jumped into a deeper section of the water, Judy Mether noticed he was face down in the water and immediately alerted the lifeguards. Pulled from the water, unconscious and without a pulse, Hudson and Arteaga performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which successfully revived the young boy. After an overnight stay in the hospital, Jace was released the next day, where he was able to celebrate his fourth birthday at home with his family.

“The Governor’s Lifesaving Awards was implemented in 1970 to recognize  Iowans who have performed a courage act in an attempt to save someone’s life or to those who have unselfishly assisted in an emergency,” Governor Reynolds said, addressing the auditorium that included the Union High School student body, members of the City Council and local first responders, as well as the family and friends of the honorees and other special guests.

“The Lt. Governor and I could not be more proud than to be here this afternoon to present the Governor’s Lifesavings Award. What a bright spot to be able to be here today and to recognize the heroic efforts [of Richie Arteaga, Megan Hudson and Judy Mether]. It’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

“We see it happening a lot and across the state but it just gets lost sometimes, I think, in all the other things that are going on. What a great, great pleasure it is to be here and to award these certificates and recognize some outstanding individuals,” she added.

Union High School regularly teaches the skills of CPR as part of the school’s curriculum, as noted by physical education instructor, Erin Wittenburg.

“Each year, all students at Union High School refresh in the skills of adult and child CPR and hands-only CPR.  This simple mini-course right before the holiday break is meant to encourage your participation in a necessary cardiac event,” she said, addressing the student body. 

Wittenburg also thanked school nurses Stephanie Denner, Kristin Beermann, Cheryl Wiebbeke and Alyssa Linderer, public EMTs and CPR Certified Trainers, Julie Grote and Michael Timmer, in addition to the local Iowa National Guard Chapter, including Sergeant Adam Murphy, Sergeant Travis Correll, and Sergeant Brian Swift, who have assisted the high school’s students for several years in their training efforts.

“These public figures are the local heroes whose jobs require lifesaving training techniques as routine as the homework that you [Union High School students] do every day for your classes,” she stated.

“We are so very proud that the skills you are learning at school and using on the job have given you the confidence and the courage to act in a lifesaving event and that you took the bravest steps to do something very important,” Wittenburg added.

Echoing those sentiments, Mayor David Neil said, “It’s a great day for La Porte [City]. Our pool is safe because of the acts of two young La Porte Citians who stepped forward at a time of need, and a grandmother who saw something and said something. And to that we’re very grateful.”

Prior to presenting special certificates to Mether, Hudson and Arteaga, the Governor commended school personnel for their efforts, saying  “We’re really grateful to all those who are helping make sure that these young people have the CPR skills to be able to step up and perform an act like they did.”

Along with the three La Porte City heroes, Governor Reynolds also addressed the Keegan family, and Jace, in particular.

“We’re also recognizing Jace. We want to show our appreciation for those who participated in saving your life. We’re glad you’re doing well and wish you all the best and a long life ahead.”

Governor’s Lifesaving Awards

The Governor’s Lifesaving Awards Ceremony recognizes citizens, every day heroes who have helped a friend or neighbor at a critical time when they were in need of assistance. There are four categories in which honorees are recognized:

Lifesaving With Valor: Award is presented to those persons who, while risking their own life, saved the lives of others;

Lifesaving: Award is given to those who have saved the lives of others without apparent risk to their own life;

Meritorious Service: Award is presented to those individuals who have rendered expeditious service in a time of emergency.

Outstanding Service: Award is presented to persons who have performed a courageous act in an attempt to save an individual who was in danger of losing his or her life or an unselfish service rendered in time of emergency and not necessarily life threatening.