Posted: Jul 10, 2012 6:16 PM by Tara Grimes - MTN News
Updated: Jul 11, 2012 10:39 AM
GREAT FALLS- Two young boys in Great Falls are receiving praise from the community after they helped rescue a man from drowning from the Missouri River over the weekend.
Sunday was just another day by the river for Jake Vidal, 14, and J.T. Whitaker, 10, but as their families packed up, everything changed.
"Not even a minute before we were leaving, we were out there and his dad yells, 'Go save that man!'" Vidal said.
Vidal and Whitaker watched as a 20-year-old man bobbed up and down in the river, the undercurrent pulling him down.
The man was doing the 'dead man's float,' Vidal remembered. "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."
The boys rode their paddle boards toward the man and his girlfriend.
"I was just on the back part of it, I kind of stopped and threw my...paddle upstream, and he started going down," Vidal said. "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."
Whitaker said when he and the sinking man's girlfriend helped pull him up, he felt emotional. "I was about to cry, kind of. It was just scary."
The boys are glad they were there at just the right time. "He was on the brink. One more second I think he would have been gone," Vidal said.
The boys were wearing life vests, and credit swimming lessons for helping them save the man.