Iowa City Teen Honored For Saving Child

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

Nate Waikel, 15, and Nate Franzwa, 4, pose for a photo after the Governor's Lifesaving Award ceremony Friday in Des Moines. Waikel was honored for pulling Franzwa from an icy creek in Coralville last December after a sledding incident. (MARK CARLSON/KCRG-THE GAZETTE)

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa - An Iowa City teenager was honored Friday by Governor Branstad for pulling a young boy from a partially frozen creek last December. Nate Waikel, 15, was presented with a Governor’s Lifesaving Award at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Friday morning.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Waikel. “I didn’t expect this.”

Last December Waikel, then 14, was on a footbridge at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville when he saw a sledding tube carrying two kids heading toward Muddy Creek. Nate Franzwa, 4, and his sister had been sledding down the hill together when another sledder bumped them off course toward the water. Franzwa, then 3 years-old, was thrown into the icy creek when the sled reached the bottom of the hill.

Waikel went into the water without hesitation to rescue the young boy.

“We’re so thankful,” said Jennifer Franzwa, who recalled witnessing the incident from the top of the hill.

Jennifer and her husband, Brad, both of North Liberty, ran to the bottom of the hill where Waikel handed the shaken-up, but OK, boy over to his parents.

Both the Franzwa and Waikel families attended the ceremony Friday. Both boys had their photo taken with the Governor after the awards presentation.

“That was pretty cool,” Nate Waikel said.

18 total people were honored with awards Friday. Three other Eastern Iowans were honored. Darryl Brink, Janet Schroeder and Justin Hager, all of Waukon also received awards for assisting with a car accident on Highway 76 last August.

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