Texas

Lake Jackson man awarded Carnegie Medal for risking his life to save a child from drowning

Randy Wilkinson swam through a river to save an 11-year-old from drowning. Wilkinson is among 17 Americans who will receive the award this year.

Randy Wilkinson was awarded the Carnegie Medal for saving an 11-year-old from drowning in Brazos River.

A Lake Jackson man was awarded the Carnegie Medal for risking his life to save an 11-year-old boy from drowning in the middle of a river.

Randy Wilkinson, 31, was visiting a friend in Oct. 2019 by Old Brazos River near Freeport, Texas when he heard screaming coming from underneath a nearby bridge.

“When I got to the dock, I could hear screams coming from the water,” Wilkinson said. “Just jumped in the water and started swimming towards the middle of the river, underneath the bridge, as fast as I could. And then I saw this little boy hanging on for dear life.”

The 11-year-old boy had severely injured his leg and was clinging to the base of a pier more than 200 feet from the nearest river bank when Wilkinson found him.

“Told him everything was gonna be okay, got him on my back,” Wilkinson said. “Slowly made my way back to the dock.”

Towing the boy, Wilkinson swam hundreds of feet through the river before returning to the dock, where a police officer helped lift the boy to safety.

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others, according to the Carnegie Hero Fund.

Wilkinson is among 17 Americans who will receive the award this year — five of whom lost their lives and will be awarded posthumously. A total of 10,273 Carnegie Medals have been awarded since the fund’s inception in 1904.

Wilkinson, father to a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son, said he was honored to receive the award and was glad that everyone involved in the incident was okay.

“I was telling my wife, you know, ‘what if that was our kid?,'” Wilkinson said. “I’d hope somebody would do the same for us.”

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