James Earl Landers, 19, food company salesman, died helping to save Mary K. Ratcliff from drowning, Pottsboro, Texas, September 3, 1961. When a raft on which she was playing drifted from a beach on Lake Texoma, Mary, 13, fell into deep water. As she struggled to stay afloat, the raft drifted away. Screams of other children on the beach attracted Landers, 19, food company salesman, and several women. After running 250 feet, Landers removed his shoes and entered the water. He swam to Mary, who by then had drifted to 210 feet from the beach. Mary immediately grasped him around the neck. Unable to break her hold, Landers called for assistance. Meanwhile C. Eugene Larey had entered the water after removing his shoes. While Larey was swimming to them, Mary’s struggles forced Landers to dip beneath the surface. Just as Larey reached them, Mary attempted to climb onto Landers, and both were submerged briefly. Larey then grasped Mary around the waist from behind her, but she continued to struggle with Landers. Mary and Landers again were submerged. When they surfaced, Larey regained his hold on Mary. She once more grasped Landers, and both again sank. Only Mary returned to the surface. Larey regained his hold on Mary, who then lost consciousness. He supported her as several waves washed over them. A woman then arrived in a motorboat and took them aboard. Larey was nearly exhausted. After returning Mary to the beach, the woman and Larey took the boat back to where Landers had sunk, but they could not find him. Others later recovered his body. Mary was revived and recovered.
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