Harold G. Wolaver saved Winston W. Harris and Joseph W. Curtin from drowning, Joe Wheeler Dam, Alabama, July 4, 1964. In the Tennessee River, Harris, 48, optician, and Curtin, 57, advertising specialties salesman, were 650 feet from the bank in a boat moored between draught outlets of the dam’s hydroelectric plant generators. The generator nearest them was automatically activated, forcing water and air through the outlets and creating a violent boil over an area 100 feet wide. Curtin, who could not swim, and Harris were thrown into the turbulent water, which was 50 feet deep, and were submerged. Wolaver, 53, commercial fisherman, was in a 14-foot motorboat nearer the bank and saw Harris rise to the surface in the boil. Wolaver piloted his craft into the turbulent water and reached Harris 60 feet below the dam. He pulled Harris aboard and with effort held the craft in the boil while he watched for Curtin, who had been swept into a draught outlet of the adjoining generator. He rose to the surface of the water, which because of the turbulence of the boil was within 10 inches of the concrete top of the outlet. Nearly exhausted, Curtin held to a life preserver and called for help. Wolaver heard him and piloted his boat to opposite the adjoining generator, although he knew it might be activated at any time and completely fill the draught outlet. Wolaver waited briefly until the water in the outlet had dropped to two and a half feet below the top. Telling Harris to lower his head, Wolaver bent low and piloted his boat 20 feet into the outlet to alongside Curtin, who was too weak to grasp the boat. Wolaver reached over the side and with effort pulled Curtin into the boat, which tilted and shipped some water. Wolaver piloted the boat from the outlet and took Harris and Curtin to the bank.
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