Ft Benning soldier saves drowning children from whitewater rapid - WNEM TV 5

Ft Benning soldier saves drowning children from Whitewater rapids

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Two boys are alive, thanks to the swift action of a Fort Benning soldier who was in the right place at the right time.

If he didn't risk his own life to save them, emergency officials are confident the children could have easily drowned in the Chattahoochee River.

2nd Lt. James Lamoreaux and his wife were out for a leisurely stroll on the Riverwalk on Saturday evening.  The trouble began as they walked out to the island by the rapids.

"The crowd was pointing at this little boy drifting down the river. He was yelling help. At that time, it gained my attention," said Lamoreaux, "I made my way down the rocks and plunged in. Thankfully the current was strong enough where it was keeping me going straight towards him."

If Lamoreaux didn't jump in when he did, fire officials said the fast current combined with the cold temperature of the water would have probably been too much for the 9-year-old and his 15-year-old friend to overcome.

"Once we got past a certain rock, there was nothing else beyond that, other than the steps that were about 200 meters away," he said. "I swam towards him, and thankfully, by the grace of God, I was able to get him and hold onto the rock."

On top of the amphibious combat training he received in the U.S. Army, Lamoreaux has also worked as a lifeguard in the past. His wife said she was certain from the beginning that he would succeed in rescuing the children.

"I didn't think twice about my husband jumping in to do it. It didn't surprise me. That's something he would do. He's my hero," said Shannon Lamoreaux.

After he pulled the children to safety, a professional river rescue crew met them on the rock. The boys told authorities they rode their bikes to the river without their parents' knowledge.

"The little boy, the 9-year-old, his name is Kevin. Kevin was very worried about all the water that he drank. We laughed a little bit on the rock. There was nothing else to do, so we talked.   Laughed a little bit, told some stories," said Lamoreaux.

Columbus Fire Marshal, Ricky Shores said Lamoreaux will receive a commendation for his efforts in May.

Shores also said it's realistic to expect that when a bystander attempts to jump in and save a distressed swimmer from the Chattahoochee River, all that will follow is two people drowning instead of one. The only casualty this time was Lamoreaux's cell phone, which was still in his pocket when he jumped in.

Shores urges anyone who plans to go near the water to wear a life jacket.

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