Reported by NEWSSARAH TAYLOR | June 01, 2021
Authorities say that a 7-year-old Florida boy likely saved the lives of his father and his younger sister after the three were swept out and stranded in a river by dangerous currents.
According to a Monday CNN report, 7-year-old Chase and his father and sister were on the family’s boat on the St. John’s River in Jacksonville when the incident happened.
The father, Steven Poust, told WKXT-TV that the children were swimming when 4-year-old Abigail, who was wearing a life jacket, was swept away by a strong current. Chase, Steven said, immediately let go of the boat and tried to swim after his sister to keep her from drifting further down the river. He, too, became stuck, and Steven was forced to jump in to help them both.
As Steven swam toward his 4-year-old daughter, he directed Chase — who was not wearing a life jacket — to swim to shore for help.
It took the boy an entire hour to fight to shore, authorities said.
He told WKXT that he alternated floating on his back and doggie-paddling in order to preserve his strength, and when he finally reached land, he ran to a nearby home for help.
“I felt really scared,” Chase told the station. “The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way.”
By that time, the current reportedly had dragged Steven and 4-year-old Abigail about a mile and a half to two miles away from the family’s boat.
Steven said that he told both of his children that he loves them because he “wasn’t sure” what the outcome would be.
“I tried to stick with both of them,” he said. “I wore myself out. She drifted away from me.”
Eric Prosswimmer, a spokesperson for the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, said during a news conference on the dramatic rescue that the department used “every resource” to assist in the rescue.
“We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we’re happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well,” he explained. “We couldn’t ask for a better outcome.”
Prosswimmer noted that neither Chase nor his father were required to wear a life vest, as the state law applies only to children aged 6 years and under for a vessel under 26 feet.