Ina Koenig is a teacher none of her pupils would easily forget. When one of her kindergarten students fell down a 75 feet deep mine the brave 37 year old did not hesitate a second, to jump and save the toddler’s life.
Forty kindergarten children from the St. Nicolai Kindergarten were on a school trip in Hanover, Germany when three year old Jannic accidently fell down a chasm in a wooded area. His teacher Ina dived straight after him, without even knowing how deep the chasm was or even if she could rescue him.
The two had fell down a 75 feet mine shaft that the miners had dug to bring light to a long disused coal mine. Wooden planks had been put to seal it, but over time the wood had rotted.
Ina and Jannic fell straight into the deep water in the flooded shaft at Osterwald. They clung to tree roots and bulges in the four and a half feet wide shaft as other staff members and students looked in panic.
For two hours, Ina struggled to keep Jannic’s head above the freezing water and held him tightly close to her body. Firefighters eventually arrived and rescued both the student and the teacher who had risked her own life to save the child.
The rescuers say that it was Ina’s body heat that saved Jannic.
According to Fire chief Dirk Habenich, ‘We had to bring in a crane and lower men down the shaft. We got the little boy into a belt first. He wasn’t crying, just trembling a little. Then we got Ina into the belt and brought her up. Both were only slightly injured. The water was cold but it saved them; no water, and the fall would have killed them.’
Both were taken to the Hamelin-Pyrmont Sana Clinic where they were diagnosed with mild hypothermia. Jannic had bruises to his skin and will be at the clinic for a week. He is also undergoing counseling for the massive emotional trauma he went through after the fall.
Ina on the other hand is already out of the hospital and is being hailed as a real hero in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has sent her congratulations to the teacher. She might also receive a bravery award from the state of Lower Saxony for her actions and has also been recommended for the Federal Cross of Merit – Germany’s highest civilian award for bravery.
The humble teacher however does not consider herself a hero. She refused to do any personal interviews and said,
“I am not a hero. I did what any human being would do.’”
Local authorities say that the mine was closed down a hundred years ago and though many attempts have been made to fill the shaft, it is too deep. Now an enquiry is underway as to why the shaft was not properly sealed and the rotting timber replaced.