Derek J. Creel saved Trenton S. and attempted to save Timothy W. Sigafoose from drowning, Warrior, Alabama, March 27, 2009. Trenton, 7, and his father, Sigafoose, 42, were thrown into the cold and swift-flowing water of the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River when their canoe capsized shortly after launching. They held to the overturned 14-foot craft as it was swept downstream. Creel, 19, server assistant, was fishing from the bank and witnessed the accident. He ran along the bank to a point ahead of the canoe and then entered the 54-degree water, swam out to the middle of the river, and intercepted it. Creel grasped one end of the canoe and attempted to tow it to the bank, but the current overcame his efforts, and the canoe continued downstream. As Sigafoose was losing consciousness, Creel held him to the canoe and attempted to rouse him. A tree protruding from the bank into the river came into view after the canoe traveled about three-quarters of a mile downstream. Creel took the canoe into the tree, but the impact forced him under water. Surfacing, he placed Trenton into a fork of the tree and then maintained a hold of Sigafoose, who was unresponsive, for as long as he could. Creel joined Trenton in the tree to await help. Firefighters responded by boat and removed both to safety. Creel was nearly exhausted after the rescue, and he sustained scrapes and contusions. He recovered. Sigafoose’s body was found in the river four days after the accident.
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