Far too many times, drowning victims include the person who was trying to rescue somebody else. But one 16 year old girl was able to beat those odds. Melanie Acker rescued three college-aged men who were in trouble in the Village Creek near Beaumont a year ago. Today, Acker was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award. Houston Public Radio’s Capella Tucker reports
Acker was playing with family and friends in Village Creek when she noticed the men in trouble. They had fallen out of a canoe.
“The first couple of times I got them with a paddle. Like, I just reached out because that was next to me on the shore and I just went and got that and pulled him in. There was one man that I got grabbed by, I think the report said by his shirt, but it was his hand so I just pulled him in by his arm.”
But Acker did not dive in without thinking. Her background included competitive swimming at her high school including being a member of the water polo team. Also, Acker had recently completed a Red Cross swimming course so she could work as a life guard. Coast Guard Captain of the Port William Diehl says Acker’s strength in the water and the knowledge of using her environment made the rescue possible.
“Grabbing the paddle, that’s one thing we teach people. Don’t go and just grab the individual, especially if it’s a man and you are a woman, that can be dangerous. Throw them a life buoy if you have that handy, you can use your environment.”
Only one of the men involved in the incident was wearing a life jacket. One other man in the group did drown. Diehl says 85 percent of fatalities involve people not wearing life jackets. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.