John Ellis Perrier, 22, salesman, helped to save Cynthia N. Benward, 19, David H. Waggoner, 19, clerk, Ronald L. Benward, 19, printer, and Patricia A. Bard, 19, from drowning, Noel, Missouri, May 16, 1965. The paddle boat in which the Benwards, Waggoner, and Miss Bard were riding was swept over the crest of the Elk River dam a 150 feet from the bank and fell eight feet into a stilling basin where the water was eight feet deep. The structure of the basin, which was 35 feet wide, was such that a strong current constantly moved against the base of the dam and kept the boat from being carried downstream. The four persons clung to the boat, which was overturned and submerged briefly at intervals. Mrs. Benward at times lost her hold but was assisted by Waggoner. All called for help. Because the current downstream from the basin was so swift, attempts to reach the boat were futile, as were efforts to get a line to it. Perrier volunteered to try to take a rope to the persons in the water. He undressed to his trousers, put on a life jacket, and tied a rope to a cushion-type life preserver. Men in wadable water held the end of the rope as Perrier was taken in a motorboat to near the crest of the dam. After several futile attempts to lower the preserver to the persons below, Perrier jumped overboard with it and was carried over the dam. In the turbulent water in the basin he lost his hold on the preserver briefly. He swam to the paddleboat and around the rope twice around the paddle wheel. The boat then turned over again, and Mrs. Benward remained submerged. Perrier submerged and located her. He brought her to the surface and held her against the boat. The men tried to pull the boat directly across the current but could not do so. The craft turned over twice more. The first time Perrier briefly lost his hold on Mrs. Benward, and the second time he briefly lost his hold on the boat while she retained here. The men holding the rope moved downstream. They again pulled on the boat and drew it out of the basin into the main current of the river, where it was carried rapidly downstream. The men drew the boat into a flooded area in which the water was wadable and from which they aided all to the bank.
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