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Whenever most of us hear the term, ‘prisoner’ or ‘inmate’, we are quick to judge. Majority of the time, we do not have a good impression of these individuals who have committed criminal offences. However, on Wednesday, three of them proved that people do change for the better and not all inmates are bad people. They did this by diving into the frigid water to save the lives of three boys, whose canoe capsized on Salmon Creek in Washington.


According to firefighters, the three boys, who are brothers, were on board their canoe when they suddenly lost control of it in the extremely cold and fast-moving water. The incident occurred at 12:30pm, where the Klineline Bridge crosses Highway 99 in Hazel Dell. At that point of time, the inmate crew from Larch Corrections Center was finishing of their work for the day. “We just thought it was some kids screaming until we seen their two heads bobbing in the water with the canoe upside down. They were coming down over flooded Salmon Creek. It was raging pretty fast,” stated Nelson Pettis, a member of the crew.

Nelson mentioned that he removed his jacket and dove into the creek. However, he soon realised that the cold water made it a challenge to breath and the current was too strong for him. This alone was enough to indicate to him that the children would not be able to swim either. “I just let the current take me down until I could get to a spot where my feet hit ground and I tried to stay put. They actually came to me right there. Right then, the current swept me from underneath my feet and I grabbed onto the kids and got them to a little island in the middle of the river,” he explained.

Thankfully, himself and the three boys were able to get to a pile of wood debris in the creek. That was where they stayed and waited for rescue crews to arrive. Larry Bohn, another member of the inmate crew, jumped into the water as well. First, he helped the 16-year-old to get back on shore before returning back down the creek to help Nelson with the younger children. “They were really scared. They kept telling us ‘thank you, thank you’ all over again,” he said. For the rest of the article, click here.

Once again, this is evidence of how unpredictable the open waters are. Even if one has good swimming skills, it still might not be sufficient. Happy Fish Swim School would like to remind all Singaporeans not to swim in the open waters, especially when there is nobody around. If you would like to arm yourself with water survival skills, do check out the swimming lessons that we offer.