A prison work crew in Hazel Dell, Wash. came to the rescue of three brothers after they heard screaming coming from a raging river near where they were assigned work detail last week as part of their prison term.
One inmate, Nelson Pettis from Larch Corrections Center, said, “We just thought it was some kids screaming until we seen their two heads bobbing in the water with the canoe upside down. They were coming down over flooded Salmon Creek. It was raging pretty fast.”
Pettis said when he saw three children in distress, he immediately took off his jacket and dove in to the icy cold water. Pettis said he found it impossible to remain steady in the powerful current so he floated to where he could touch ground and waited for the children to float past him.
Pettis said, “Right then, the current swept me from underneath my feet and I grabbed onto the kids and got them to a little island in the middle of the river.”
Another inmate, Larry Bohn, also jumped in to the frigid water and helped the oldest boy, a 16-year-old, whom he helped to get to shore. The third inmate, Jon Fowler, carried one of the boys from the boat to the shore.
Bohn said the children kept thanking the men over and over again as they shivered, frightened and scared.
Both the inmate rescuers and the boys were taken to local hospitals where they were treated for hypothermia.
Fowler shrugged off the praise given to him by the public and the media, saying, “You see three helpless kids in a river, you help.”
“That’s what you do. Just cause we’re incarcerated, doesn’t mean we’re bad people. We made some bad choices in our lives, but we’re still, we’re just like everybody else. We’re just paying our debt for what we did wrong.”