Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tragedy Avoided

A 9-year old special ed student bolts from his school and runs off. While trying to hide, he falls in the Spokane River. He is saved from possibly drowning by a passer-by who himself fell in a river when he was 8 years old, and now gets to return the favor. From the Spokane Spokesman-Review (subscription required):

A 9-year-old boy was rescued Tuesday from the Spokane River by a man who was pulled out of North Idaho's St. Joe River when he was about the same age.

"I'm just glad he's alive, glad I was able to do what I did," said William A. Woodcox, 37.

He said he hadn't thought about the "Pay It Forward" movie concept of passing good deeds from one person to another, but his action Tuesday "just might be" an example. Woodcox was 8 when he fell through ice on the St. Joe River, he said, and an 8-year-old boy who was with him pulled him out.

Woodcox said he wouldn't have been able to do the same Tuesday if it hadn't been for two women who alerted him after they spotted the boy bobbing up and down in about eight feet of frigid water, clinging to some brush at the edge of the swift-flowing river, near the intersection of Upriver Drive and North Center Street in Spokane.

"As far as I'm concerned, those ladies did more than me," he said. "I would have just walked by with my headphones and never heard anything."

Spokane police Officer Gordon Grant said the women slipped away in the aftermath of the rescue before he could get their names, but he hopes to find them so he can nominate them for an award along with Woodcox.

Police already were looking for the boy, who ran away from Logan Elementary School, about eight-tenths of a mile away at 11001 E. Montgomery Ave. The boy, who has the mental abilities of a 6-year-old, was being escorted to the school office by the principal because of a disciplinary issue, when he bolted out a side door about 3:10 p.m., Grant said.

Twenty-five minutes later, police and Spokane Public Schools security officers were scouring the area with photos of the runaway, whose name was not released, when they received a report that two women had spotted a boy in the river.

Grant said the women told him they heard a sound while they were walking on the Centennial Trail and, unable to hear the boy's cries for help clearly, thought it was a goose. Then they saw the boy and called 911 while summoning Woodcox as he walked on the opposite side of Upriver Drive. He said he found the boy eight to nine feet from the bank, hanging on to some brush at the river's edge.

Grant and Woodcox said the boy didn't offer a clear explanation of how he got into the river, but Grant speculated that he fell in while trying to hide at the bottom of a steep embankment at the edge of the Centennial Trail.

God bless all involved!


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4:57 AM  

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