Dallas L. Ritter, Jr., saved Ann P. Best, 29 and Deborah J. Best, 7, from drowning, Topsail Beach, North Carolina, July 19, 1964. While Mrs. Best’s husband and his aunt were wading in shallow water at a beach on Topsail Sound, each slid into an unmarked pit 100 feet long and 30 feet wide, where the water was nine and a half feet deep. They were poor swimmers and were submerged briefly several times as they attempted to return to shallow water. Mrs. Best also a poor swimmer, waded toward her husband, holding her daughter Deborah by the hand. Both slid into the pit and were submerged briefly. Deborah clung to her mother. The women’s screams attracted Ritter, 17, excursion boat operator, who was aware of the dredged pit. He kicked off his shoes ran 150 feet to opposite the people in the water, and waded 20 feet to the side of the pit. All four people in the pit were struggling and being submerged intermittently. Seeing Mrs. Best and Deborah sink 10 feet from him, Ritter lunged into the deep water. He submerged and took hold of Mrs. Best, who was unconscious. Deborah still was clinging to her mother, and Ritter took both of them to the surface. He towed them 10 feet to the side of the pit, thrust them into shallow water, and climbed out after them. As Ritter waded towing Mrs. Best and Deborah to the beach, the husband and his aunt made their way to the edge of the pit and crawled out. With some help from another youth, Ritter revived Mrs. Best.
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