Life has a way of making sure heroes are exactly where they need to be when disaster strikes.
Nineteen-year-old Cora Watson of Mississippi was riding in the backseat of her friend’s car at night when they took a wrong turn that nearly cost them their lives. The three teens were following GPS directions, but the device didn’t calibrate their location correctly so they wound up driving straight into the pitch-dark Pascagoula River.
“It’s no lights down here or nothing, so everything was just pitch black,” Cora explained. “The GPS thought we was on top of the interstate. That’s why it was telling us to go straight because it did not say it was water here or nothing.”
In seconds, the car plunged off the boat launch and landed about 25 feet from shore. It immediately sank as the girls struggled to climb out of a passenger window. Cora dialed 911 on her cell phone and was trying to keep it above water, but she does not know how to swim, so she began sinking.
Luckily, 16-year-old high school student Corion Evans and brothers Karon and Caleb Bradley were hanging out nearby. As soon as they saw the car go into the water, Corion stripped off his shoes, shirt, and phone and then jumped into the river to save them.
“They drove straight under the water,” said Corion. “Like, only a little bit of the car was still above the water.”
Karon and Caleb jumped in after and urged the three passengers to get on the roof of the car.
“I was just like, ‘I can’t let none of these folks die,'” Corion recalled. “‘They need to get out the water.’ So, I just started getting them. I wasn’t even thinking about nothing else.”
When Moss Point Point Police Officer Gary Mercer arrived on the scene, he, too, jumped into the water. As he tried to help one of the victims to shore, she began to struggle in his arms. He breathed in water as well and started to go under the surface of the water!
“I turned around. I see the police officer,” said Corion. “He’s drowning. He’s going underwater, drowning, saying, ‘Help!’ So, I went over there. I went and I grabbed the police officer and I’m like swimming him back until I feel myself I can walk.”
Corion swam the officer and two of the girls to shore, leaving only Cora struggling to keep her head above water.
“I see my friends. They on shore,” she remembered. “But it’s like, I’m the only one, I was the only one, like, left in the water. If I inhale one more bit of water, I’m going to die. Like, I just knew I was. I knew my last breath was coming. And so, I just let my phone down… My mind already said, like, you’re slowly losing yourself.”
“When I tell you, right before my last dying breath underwater, that was gone be my last time going underwater, Corion had grabbed me,” Cora said through tears.
Safely back on shore, all of the victims struggled with water inside their lungs. They were all taken to the hospital and made a full recovery — all thanks to Corion and his friends!
Corion now says he “wasn’t thinking about” anything other than saving their lives. His legs were exhausted after swimming 25 yards out and back four times, once for each victim, but he is glad to have been a strong enough swimmer to help them.
“I was right there looking at it, so I couldn’t just watch nobody die, even when I seen the police officer,” he said. “I couldn’t just sit there and watch nobody die.”
Now the entire Pascagoula community is hailing Corion and his friends as heroes! He was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by Mayor Billy Knight. Police chief Brandon Ashley stated, “The police department and I commend Mr. Evans’s bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking his own safety to help people in danger. If Mr. Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically instead of all occupants rescued safely.”
Corion says he’s been swimming since he was 3 years old, so it seems he was the perfect person to save these people from a horrible fate. Well done, young man! We are so proud of your selfless and heroic actions.
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