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Seven-year-old hero swims for an hour to rescue dad and sister after boating accident

The family had drifted nearly a mile from the boat and were found after over an hour of searching.

Seven-year-old hero swims for an hour to rescue dad and sister after boating accident
Cover Image Source: YouTube/News4JAX

Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 1, 2021. It has since been updated.

A brave seven-year-old boy became a hero after a boating accident left his father and sister adrift. Over Memorial Day weekend, Steven Poust took his children, Chase and Abigail, for a swim in the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. The strong current pulled four-year-old Abigail away while Poust was fishing from the anchored boat. In an attempt to save his sister, Chase let go of the boat to keep her from drifting further.



Poust explained that his daughter typically stayed near the back of the boat but had to let go due to the strong current. Chase, who also let go, found himself stuck as well. Seeing his children in danger, Poust jumped into the water and managed to free Chase. He instructed his son to swim to shore while he stayed to help Abigail, who was wearing a life jacket, CNN reported. Chase swam for nearly an hour, floating on his back and doggie paddling to conserve energy. Once he reached land, he ran to the nearest house for help.


"I told them both I loved them because I wasn't sure what's going to happen," Proust said. "I tried to stick with her as long as I could," Steven recalled to WJXT. "I wore myself out, and she drifted away from me." Abigail floated with the current because of the life jacket. Proust and Chase were not wearing life jackets because it was not required by law. "I felt really scared," Chase said but was still quick on his feet. The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD,) Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrived to rescue Chase's father and sister.


The authorities arrived at the location to find an empty boat, fishing poles, and kids' shoes in the water. "I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough someone heard us," Poust told WKXT. “Little man also made it to shore and got help and that’s what saved our lives." According to Eric Prosswimmer, spokesperson for JFRD, the little girl and her father had drifted nearly a mile away from the boat. The search took them almost an hour and a half. “The current got ahold of them, moved the boat, and started separating them. Dad went after the 4-year-old, and it turns out that the 7-year-old ended up swimming to shore," Prosswimmer explained.



They were found and rescued. The children were transported to a nearby hospital as a precautionary measure. All three of them are doing well. Chase is being hailed as a hero, and rightfully so. "We're here. By the grace of God, we're here," Proust said, acknowledging how fortunate they were to have made it out of the situation in one piece. When Chase was asked about how he became such a skilled swimmer, the brave little boy said, "I have no idea." 

Prosswimmer noted that the rescue could have gone awry if it wasn't for the collective efforts of all his colleagues. "We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we're happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well," he said. "We couldn't ask for a better outcome." He reminded anyone on the water to be safe and smart. The law about wearing a safety vest applies only to children aged six and under for a vessel under 26 feet, which was why neither Proust nor Chase had a vest on.


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