A 7-year-old boy has been branded a hero after he swam for an hour nonstop to save his dad and 4-year-old sister from drowning in a river. The two children accompanied their father on a fishing trip and were swimming when his sister Abigail let go of the boat and was swept under and pulled away by a strong current. Chace tried to grab her but was taken by the tide as well, leading their father to jump in to save them. Soon, all three of them were stranded and it was up to Chace to take charge.
Day 243: Let’s have more nice things…
1. Chace was the family’s one chance to survive. Abigail was wearing a life jacket but she was too small to swim for help. Chace’s dad Steven wasn’t willing to leave either of the kids himself, so Chace was the one who had to swim to shore from the middle of Florida’s St. John’s River to alert authorities of their need for rescue.
2. Steven wasn’t sure if any one of them was going to survive. “I told them I loved him because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen,” he told News 4 Jax of letting Chace seek help. “I tried to stick with both of them. I wore myself out. She drifted away from me.” That must have been so terrifying for him and distressing to not be able to save his kids.
3. Chace was “really scared” but he was brave in the face of danger. He knew he was their only chance to make it out alive and made a plan: he would doggy paddle part of the way and then float on his back when he got tired. “The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way,” he recalled.
4. After about an hour, Chace made it to shore. He immediately knocked on the door of the first house he could find and the homeowners alerted authorities. The Jacksonville Fire Department sprung into action, as did the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
5. Thankfully, everyone made it out alive. “I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough, someone heard us,” Steven remembered. “Little man also made it to shore and got help and that’s what saved our lives.” Thankfully, Chace’s bravery and his knowledge about the currents and how to navigate them was a big help. He’s amazing!!