Inmates saved three boys who were tossed into freezing waters in Washington's Salmon Creek after their canoe capsized, a Feb. 1 report reveals. Some inmates from Larch Corrections Center working nearby could hear the screams of boys who were thrown into the water and quickly rushed to the scene.
Nelson Pettis, who was one of the members of the crew working outside, spoke of the incident.
“We just thought it was some kids screaming until we seen their two heads bobbing in the water with the canoe upside down,” Pettis said. “They were coming down over flooded Salmon Creek. It was raging pretty fast.”
Pettis took off his jacket and went into the water, but said swimming was difficult since breathing in the frigid waters was near impossible. Once he got his bearings he was able to help the three brothers who were frantically trying to get out of the water.
“I just let the current take me down until I could get to a spot where my feet hit ground and I tried to stay put," Pettis added. "They actually came to me right there. 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.”
Pettis was able to help two of the boys as they waited on some wood momentarily. Another inmate -- Larry Bohn -- was helping the other boy reach shore. He then helped Pettis with the other two boys. A third inmate -- Jon Fowler -- carried one of the boys to shore.
All three boys and two inmates went to a local hospital and were diagnosed with mild hypothermia.
The boys kept thanking the inmates for their help.
“I think we did something that any good person would do. You see three helpless kids in a river, you help. That’s what you do,” said Fowler.