Rouse fire victim saves brother from drowning in backyard pool

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 28, 2002

Patrick Rader talks about what he thinks happened to his brother, David Rader, when he dived into a swimming pool and was knocked unconscious, nearly drowning. Listening at right is Derrick Turner, a family friend who helped Rader resuscitate his brother.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[06/28/02]Patrick Rader, released from the hospital three days ago after surviving the May 16 Rouse explosion, had to move quickly again on Thursday to save his brother from drowning.

Rader, 29, said he was asleep when his niece ran into the house and told him that her daddy was at the bottom of the pool and he was not swimming.

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When Rader got outside the house at 3124 Second St., he saw his brother, David Rader, 31, motionless on his stomach at the bottom of the 8-foot pool. He pulled him to the surface with a rod used for cleaning the pool and resuscitation efforts began.

“My heart was beating fast,” Rader said. “My hands were shaking. If I had to jump in there after him I would have.”

Rader said he did not know where he got the strength to pull his brother to the top of the pool. “It lets me know know God works in mysterious ways,” Rader said, “because I have a 1-year-old daughter and I don’t have the strength to pick her up.”

Since the explosion and fire at Rouse Polymerics on U.S. 61 South, Patrick Rader had been at the Mississippi Firefighters Memorial Burn Center at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville for treatment of burns covering 65 percent of his body. He was allowed a weekend trip to Vicksburg starting a week ago today, returned to the hospital on Monday and was released on Tuesday.

Injuries included his head, where his plastic safety helmet melted to his flesh. His discharge orders tell him to rest indoors and not to lift anything heavy while grafted skin heals.

Rader said he used his legs to leverage his brother to the top of the pool since his upper body was too weak. Then, Derrick Turner, 18, assisted after walking up to the house to visit and seeing Rader struggling in the back yard.

After pulling David Rader out of the pool, both Patrick Rader and Turner performed CPR. They said David Rader began breathing again and opened his eyes. Minutes later, the Vicksburg Fire Department arrived to take Rader to the River Region Medical Center emergency room. Patrick Rader was also taken to the hospital for a cut on his finger and to check a pulled muscle in his shoulder.

Vicksburg Fire Department Deputy Chief Rose Shaifer said David Rader was apparently knocked out after diving into the pool and hitting his head on the bottom. He was in the water for 3 minutes before his brother raised his head out of the pool, she estimated.

River Region Medical Center admitted David Rader overnight for observation. He was listed in stable condition in the critical care unit today, medical center spokesman Diane M. Gawronski said.

When Patrick Rader returned home from the hospital Thursday afternoon he placed a lock on the fence around his swimming pool to prevent anyone else from swimming.

“Any pool can be dangerous,” Rader said. “I don’t even like being around them.”

A total of 12 people were injured in the explosion, still under investigation, at Rouse and five of them died. Two remain in Greenville in the state’s only specialized treatment center for burns.