DULUTH, Minn. — There was a happy and safe ending to some frightening moments on the St. Louis River last week.
Police say a 6-year-old boy was found in the water, after becoming separated from the family sailboat. A kayaker who happened to be nearby on the river says he heard and saw a child yelling for his father. He then came to the boy’s recuse and captured the entire scene on the camera he was wearing.
David Jones was fishing from his kayak and fighting a sturgeon when he heard a child yelling for his father. “It was the sound of a child that was screaming in complete panic and complete fear,” said Jones.
He explained that he looked to his right and saw a child almost in the middle of the river channel. That’s when Jones, who was recording his catch with a go pro, cut his fishing line and paddled for almost four minutes before reaching the child. In the footage, you can hear the boy repeatedly asking jones to help him find his father.
“Kids can often catch hypothermia a lot faster than adults due to their general body size. I did not know how long he had been in the water and his face was starting to somewhat turn blue.” Jones went on to say, “so that was one of the first things that I was starting to get that sense of urgency. To get him number one out of the current, out of the water, to get him dry, and to then contact EMS to have him evaluated before he left the scene.”
According to Jones, it was only 57 degrees outside and they were nearly 250 yards from shore. Police say the boy had been hanging on to a rope behind his father’s sailboat, when they became separated due to strong winds. Police also report that the father said the wind was too strong for him to turn the boat around and that the current hindered the child’s ability to swim to shore.
“I had to make minutes seem like seconds and seconds seem like milliseconds, because in those types of situations the last thing you want is to have the person you’re trying to help feel like you know it’s going to take forever.”
Just last year a man drowned while attempting to save two young girls in the St. Louis River, one of which was his own 8-year old daughter.
To prevent water from overwhelming his kayak, Jones had the child hold onto the side as they paddled to shore. Fortunately, the child was wearing a life-jacket which helped keep him stay afloat.
“People drown every year on some of these river systems across the entire country because there’s not enough knowledge about the undercurrent and personal flotation devices that are of the appropriate size,” said Jones.
When they made it to shore, Jones approached three men who were down by the water. The men helped get the boy dried-off while jones called 911.
“I also was able to find comfort in knowing that I made contact with law enforcement and they check the child out.” The boy was then reunited with his father.