CLEVELAND -- A teacher from Independence has passed away after being pulled under water by rip currents in Lake Erie on Monday.
Laura Recco, 46, was among a group of four teachers and five students on a school trip to Huntington Beach. The group was wading in the shallow water, when Diamond Harris, 9, began to be pulled farther into the waves.
Recco went after her, but was also swept under water. Several lifeguards, who were not yet on duty at the time of the incident -- rushed to their rescue.
Recco was not breathing when she was pulled out of the water.
Frank Recco, who spoke exclusively to Channel 3's Lynna Lai said, "She was under the water for 16 to 20 minutes, and her heart stopped. They tried her heart several times, and if it wasn't for one young doctor who kept on going."
Frank Recco doesn't believe the group would intentionally ignore the red flag warnings for the high waves, nor the posted hours. Investigators say the group was on the beach before its 11 a.m. opening.
The school group was part of the Cleveland non-profit Positive Education Program. The organization helps local special needs children.
Board members who were meeting at PEP headquarters, ignored our questions about the program's safety policies for children. The organization later issued a statement, saying in part:
"Our hearts and thoughts are with our colleague and our child, as their safety and well-being remain our highest concern."
Frank Recco says he knows his wife put herself in danger to protect the kids.
"You know, she's only 46 years old, she's got her whole life ahead of her," he said.
The student Recco saved, Diamond Harris, has been released according to a hospital spokesman.