Like many families, Steven Poust and his two children decided to spend part of their Memorial Day weekend on their boat.
Steven took his 7-year-old son Chase and his 4-year-old daughter Abigail to St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. He dropped anchor and cast a line to fish while his kids paddled around in the water nearby.
Since Chase is over the age of 6, he was not required by law to wear a life preserver. Abigail, on the other hand, was wearing a vest. She normally hangs on to the stern to keep from drifting too far from the boat.
Little did they know, the current in the river was especially strong that day. So when Chase saw that Abigail had lost her grip on the boat, he said he “felt really scared.”
“So, I let go of the boat and grabbed her, and then, I was stuck,” Chase said.
Steven saw his two kids drifting away from the boat in opposite directions and immediately jumped into the water to save them. Unfortunately, the current was stronger than even he could manage. Without a floatation device, the dad was unable to reach both of his children. He struggled to get to Abigail and told Chase to swim to shore.
“I told them both I loved them because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen. I tried to stick with her as long as I could,” Steven recalled. “I wore myself out, and she drifted away from me.”
Meanwhile, Chase turned toward dry land and began to dog paddle.
It was about a mile-long swim, and Chase had no floatation device to buoy him. Whenever he got tired of paddling, he would roll over on his back and float to catch his breath.
It took about an hour for his feet to touch the shore, and then he took off running to the first house he saw.
Florida Fish and Wildlife, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office all responded to Chase’s frantic 911 call. They took to the water and located Steven and Abigail after searching for another hour.
Steven and Abigail were overjoyed to see their rescuers, and we can only imagine how relieved Steven was to reunite with his son back on dry land, safe and sound. The little boy is now being hailed as the hero he is for rescuing his whole family! The 7-year-old said he has “no idea” how he managed to swim for so long.
His dad is incredibly grateful that Chase stepped into the role of lifesaver that day.
“We’re here. By the grace of God, we’re here,” Steven said. “Little man … made it to shore and got help, and that’s what saved our lives.”
This is a great reminder of the importance of personal floatation devices while boating. Anything can happen on the water, and we might not have a hero like Chase around when we need one.
Share this story to congratulate Chase for rising to the challenge and saving his family.
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