Hunter O’Neil Crass helped to save three boys from drowning, Harriman, Tennessee, February 1, 2014. Three boys, each 14, broke through ice covering the Emory River at a point about 130 feet from the nearer bank. Holding to a buoy anchored in the frigid water, they shouted for help. First responders, including firefighters and a rescue squad, promptly arrived, on both banks, but efforts to reach the boys were thwarted by the ice. Alerted to the situation at their home about two miles away, Crass, 19, college student, and his father responded to the farther bank at the scene, their three-person, 15-foot, aluminum boat in tow. Placing the boat in a path of open water that was being made through the ice by a firefighter, Crass and his father motored to the firefighter, took him aboard, and continued to the boys, breaking through ice, for a total of about 270 feet. Reaching them, the men leaned from the side of the boat to haul the boys in, the edge of the boat coming close to the surface of the water. After they redistributed their weight, Crass and his father worked together in taking the boys aboard, and the three rescuers then gave up their coats for them. The boat’s capacity then exceeded, the rescuers continued breaking through ice to cross the river to the nearer bank, where medics and a helicopter were waiting. The boys required overnight hospitalization for treatment of hypothermia, and they recovered.
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