Michael J. Williams helped to save James D. and attempted to save Stephani J. Schmit from drowning, Spencer, Nebraska, June 15, 1991. James, 4, and his sister Stephanie, 6, were in wadable water just off the bank of the Niobrara River, near a dam, when that portion of the bank collapsed suddenly, plunging them and their older brother into deep, turbulent water. Williams, 25, press assistant, was fishing nearby from the bank when the accident occurred. He immediately jumped into the river, swam to James and Stephanie, and established a hold on them to keep them at the surface of the water. They struggled and submerged. Another man entered the river and, after rescuing the older brother, took James back to the bank, leaving Williams to support Stephanie at the base of the dam. The other man then walked atop the dam to a point above Williams, who handed Stephanie up to him. As Williams himself was then unable to leave the river, others lowered a rope to him and pulled him along the base of the dam back to the bank. He was exhausted, and he recovered. James recovered after receiving hospital treatment, but Stephanie drowned.
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