Posted: Jul 10, 2012 6:48 PM by Tara Grimes - MTN News
Updated: Jul 10, 2012 6:59 PM
GREAT FALLS - Two young boys in Great Falls are receiving praise from the community after they rescued a drowning man from the Missouri River over the weekend.
Sunday was just another day by the river for 14-year-old Jake Vidal and 10-year-old J.T. Whitaker, but as their families packed up, everything changed.
Jake recalled, "Not even a minute before we were leaving we were out there and his dad yells, 'Go save that man!'"
Jake and J.T. watched as a 20-year-old man bobbed up and down in the river, the undercurrent pulling him down.
Jake recalled, "He was doing the 'dead man's float,' all you could see was the top of his head and his arms were floating on top of the water and he put them way down and he just took one more big breath. He came up, he was blue."
Without thinking twice, Jake and J.T. rode their paddle boards toward the man and his girlfriend.
Jake said, "I was just on the back part of it, I kind of stopped and threw my...paddle upstream, and he started going down. I used my arm to get closer to him and that's when I could only see his head and he was floating on top of the water, and then I just reached out as far as I could and I grabbed his fingertips and pulled him onto the board."
J.T. said, "When I was helping his girlfriend push him up I was kind of emotional, I was about to cry, kind of. It was just scary."
And in that moment, it almost seemed as if it was a miracle they were there that day.
Jake said, "He was on the brink. One more second I think he would have been gone."
The boys were wearing life vests at the time and credit swimming lessons for helping them save the man.