Gov. Mike Rounds has commended three people who rescued two teenage swimmers from Lake Madison this past summer. He also has extended condolences to the parents of 18-year-old Dylan Nelson, who drowned while helping save his younger brother and a cousin.
The governor sent letters of commendation to Danyel McFarlane, Wes Geier and Zach Geier, all of Sioux Falls. They were credited with saving the lives of Andrew Nelson-Long and Dan Long on Aug. 8. The two teenagers were struggling to keep from drowning in turbulent water when McFarlane and the Geiers rescued them with jet skis.
Dylan Nelson, a University of South Dakota student, drowned while trying to keep his brother and cousin afloat. After McFarlane and the Geiers reached the swimmers and took Nelson-Long and Dan Long to shore, Zach Geier returned to the area of the lake where Dylan was last seen but could not locate him. Dylan's body was recovered several hours later.
The governor's letter to Chad and Kristi Nelson of Madison, parents of Dylan and Andrew, extended sympathies on the loss of their older son.
"As parents, there is little we fear more than losing a child; however, I hope you find some comfort knowing Dylan's last actions that day were to do what he could to help save the lives of his brother and cousin," Gov. Rounds wrote. "Dylan is truly a South Dakota hero."
McFarlane and the Geiers also are heroes, Gov. Rounds wrote in separate letters to them.
"It is my understanding you did not hesitate or wait for someone else to take action; you did not consider possible personal danger and, instead you chose to offer your assistance to these teenagers who were obviously in danger of being swept away by the water," the Governor wrote in individual letters to the trio. "This is exactly the type of action that makes you a hero. Your actions helped save these teenagers lives.
"On behalf of the citizens of South Dakota, I want to recognize your selfless efforts and to thank you for making a meaningful difference. All of South Dakota should be proud to call you one of its own."