Some may call it coincidence, being at the right place at the right time. Others may call it Divine Intervention. Monica Shirk calls it God’s grace. Whatever it’s called, Monica’s son, Joshua may be alive today because of it.
Sunday, May 17 was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. The temperature was warm. It was a perfect day to be on the river.
Derek Alt and Nathan Kesner, the director and assistant director of the Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority had the day off and were fishing on the South Branch River. Alt has a river lot near the former Circle C ATV store.
“We were supposed to go Saturday, but Nathan’s girlfriend’s work schedule changed, so we went Sunday,” Alt said.
He and Kesner were fishing when they saw a group of kayakers float downriver. About 20 minutes later Kesner received a phone call that there was a medical emergency near them.
The call came into the 911 Center at 5:42 p.m. A young boy was underwater near the Circle C Campgrounds. Fraley Ambulance Service, Moorefield Volunteer Fire Department, Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department, Division of Natural Resources Police and the Hardy County Sheriff’s Department responded. Although Alt and Kesner were not on duty, they responded as well.
“We jumped in the car and drove a little ways down,” Alt said. “Firefighters were in the water. Fraley’s was on scene. The next thing we knew we were swimming across the river.”
Moorefield Volunteer firefighters Jordon Shockey and Joe Lofton were on scene. Someone had pulled 8-year-old Joshua Shirk out of the water. Alt and Kesner, trained paramedics, went into action. “Nathan started CPR (on him)on a tree in the water,” Alt said.
Shirk was taken to shore in the MVFD rescue boat. Alt and Kesner alternated CPR.
“It was good to have the boat because we could maintain CPR until we got him to the ambulance,” Alt said. “The guys on 46 (MVFD) did a good job. They knew what to do and when to do it.”
Shirk was taken, first to Grant Memorial Hospital, then to West Virginia University’s Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
“He has defied all the odds so far,” Monica said. “God put the right people at the right time. God is working every minute.”