Someone You Should Know: Okoboji hero

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:10 PM CDT
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Calvin Grosvenor is a lake kid who was raised in Okoboji.

“Growing up on the lake with my dad being a fishing guide, I just kind of took interest in everything that happens to do with the lake, and on the lake," Calvin said.

“He has spent his entire life, every single day, all day, in the water. When he was about eight, nine months old we had a church service on the beach, and he was baptized,” said Calvin’s dad John.

That boy who was baptized in the lake is now an 18-year-old who will be a senior at Okoboji High School in the fall.

Late last year, he got certified in scuba diving to give him another activity to do in these waters.

“Well, the big thing with Okoboji is it's crystal clear, and a lot of people know it. So there's also a lot of good structure to go down, dive, look around."

Last month, Calvin went to the dive shop at Okoboji Boat Works. Jesse Fletchall, a veteran diver from Missouri who was in the area for work, was there.

“When I came down there was a man standing at the counter, and he was looking to find a dive partner and someone to go diving with since he'd never been up in the area. (He had) just come up for the day to go for a dive," Calvin said.

So, Calvin went on his first dive without an instructor. Shortly into that dive, he noticed Fletchall was lagging behind, and something didn't seem right.

“One time when I turned around to check up on him again - he was seized up, sinking down to the bottom, and face down into the mud.”

It turned out, Fletchall suffered an embolism caused by a hole in his heart. Calvin immediately went to help him.

“We were down in 25 feet, brought him up as fast as possible,” said Calvin. “It felt like it took forever, but once we got to the surface, I still struggled to keep his head above and make sure he was breathing. We were still 100 yards from shore, and then I had to bring him back.”

Putting his own life at risk, Calvin swam Fletchall to the shore where a bystander called 911. But Calvin wasn't done yet.

“He wasn't breathing, he didn't have a pulse, and I didn't want to give up on his life. So, I just started CPR and I tried getting him back to life, and by the time the ambulance got there, he had a pulse,” said Calvin.

Fletchall spent a few days in the hospital, and when he got out, the first place he wanted to go with his family was to see that lake kid, who saved his life.

“They all came up and surprised me here at the shop, and he gave me a little charm that he had had on him on every dive. He gave it to me, which was just extremely sentimental and everything, and then he bought me all my own equipment, because he heard I was renting my own gear at the time."

“It was a rush to immediately get back there and talk with him, and see him, and thank him and just... I mean, he saved my life, there's never enough I can do for him,” said Fletchall.

“There were a lot of tears I mean his whole family was here, they just wanted to meet Calvin. It was pretty cool,” said John.

Calvin has gotten a lot of regional and national media attention. He’s putting it all in perspective.

“Sometimes I feel like I am a hero, but there are people who go out and spent their entire lives risking their lives to go save other peoples on a daily basis,” said Calvin.

“I think it really has changed his life. To see him save a life, I mean, a dad can't be more proud,” said John.

Fletchall is paying a permanent tribute to his friend with a tattoo on his arm. He can't dive again until he gets his heart taken care of. But then he'll be back in Okoboji.

“Soon as I go get that fixed that's going to be the first place I go back too meet up with Calvin and go finish that dive that we started,” said Fletchall.

Calvin was recognized by one of the Iowa great lakes' biggest employers, Pure Fishing. He was given the title of ambassador to the company. He's also been nominated for the governor’s life-saving award.