Ernest Willis died attempting to save Robert L. Cotheran from drowning, Little Rock, Arkansas, July 12, 1967. Robert, 8, fell into a concrete drainage ditch 25 feet wide which had overflowed due to heavy rain and in which the water was five to six feet deep midway the sides. He called for help as he was swept along by the very strong current. Willis, 47, school guard, ran 20 feet to the edge of the water, entered the ditch without delaying to remove any of his attire, and began swimming after Robert. He was seen to come within three feet of Robert while pursuing him 60feet. They then reached a point where two ditches merged. The set of the current beyond the junction carried Robert to the side of the ditch, where he obtained a hold on an overhanging bush. His 10-year-old brother, who had followed him along the ditch, aided him from the water. Willis also was moved toward the side of the ditch, but beyond the bush. His efforts to obtain footing were unsuccessful. Willis was carried 100 feet farther, swept under a low footbridge, and drowned. His body later was recovered.
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