DULUTH, Minnesota — There was a happy and safe ending to some scary times on the St. Louis River last week.
Police say a 6-year-old boy was found in the water after being separated from the family sailboat. A kayaker who was nearby on the river said he heard and saw a child yelling at his father. He then came to the boy’s shelter and captured the whole scene with the camera he was carrying.
David Jones was fishing from his kayak and fighting a sturgeon when he heard a child yelling at his father. “It was the sound of a child screaming in total panic and total fear,” Jones said.
He explained that he looked to his right and saw a child almost in the middle of the river channel. It was then that 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 find his father.
“Children can often get hypothermia much faster than adults due to their general body size. I didn’t know how long he had been in the water and his face was starting to turn a little blue. Jones said continued by saying “so that was one of the first things I started to feel that sense of urgency. To get it number one out of the stream, out of the water, to dry it out, then contact EMS for the have it assessed before he leaves the premises.
According to Jones, it was only 57 degrees outside and they were nearly 250 yards from shore. Police say the boy was hanging on to a rope behind his father’s sailboat when they got separated due to high winds. Police also report that the father said the wind was too strong for him to turn around and the current was preventing the child from swimming to shore.
“I had to make the minutes feel like seconds and the seconds feel like milliseconds, because in those kinds of situations the last thing you want is for the person you’re trying to help to have the feel like you know it’s going to take forever.”
Last year, a man drowned while trying to save two young girls in the Saint-Louis River, one of whom was his own 8-year-old daughter.
To prevent the water from overwhelming his kayak, Jones had the child hold on to the side as they paddled to shore. Fortunately, the child was wearing a life jacket which helped him stay afloat.
“People are drowning every year on some of these river systems across the country because there is not enough knowledge about underwater and personal flotation devices that are the appropriate size,” said Jones.
When they reached the shore, Jones approached three men who were at the water’s edge. The men helped dry the boy off while Jones called 911.
“I was also able to take comfort in knowing that I made contact with law enforcement and they are checking the child.” The boy then found his father.