R. Joe Sayers, 16, schoolboy, attempted to save Leland C. Williams, 14, schoolboy, from drowning, Clearfield, Pennsylvania, August 14, 1955. A motorboat occupied by Williams and another boy was carried over a dam in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and capsized in an area of deep, turbulent water extending 16 feet from the dam. Two men who were good swimmers reached the companion of Williams and aided him to wadable water farther downstream. Sayers, who saw an arm of Williams projecting above the surface, piloted his motorboat 275 feet to the top of the dam, shut off the motor, and jumped six feet to the lower pool. The motorboat drifted over the dam, narrowly missing Sayers, who was submerged to a depth of six feet but could not contact Williams. Struggling to the surface, Sayers swam six feet toward where he had observed Williams. Making a surface dive, Sayers was drawn violently downward by the current. Repeatedly thrust back and forth in the rough water, he groped in all directions but was unable to locate Williams. With difficulty Sayers swam to the surface and thence four feet to one of the overturned motorboats, which was being churned about and hurled with force against the other boat. Lacking the strength to dive again in search of Williams, Sayers clung to the boat for support. Crowds gathered at the banks, and a number of men approached to the downstream edge of the turbulent area. A man who was a powerful swimmer reached Sayers and got hold of the boat. They peered underwater near the dam for almost 10 minutes but could see no sign of Williams and swam to wadable water. The body of Williams was recovered 150 feet from the dam four hours later. Sayers nearly was exhausted and had suffered a hand cut but recovered. 43572-4021
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Ronny Joe Sayers, 74, of Augusta, Ga., died on May 25, 2014. He was born in Clearfield, Pa., to W. Eugene and Martha S. Sayers. A physician, Sayers retired in 2012.
In 1955, at age 16, Sayers attempted to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning in the Susquehanna River in Clearfield. For his heroic efforts, he received the Carnegie Medal the following year.
Sayers graduated from Clearfield High School in 1957, then attended Sullivan’s Preparatory School in Washington, D.C. He received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. from Sen. Joseph Clark. In 1962, he graduated from the academy as a second lieutenant and married his wife, the former Carol Strickland.
Sayers then moved to Fort Benning, Ga., where he attended Infantry, Airborne and Ranger schools. Later, he joined the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sayers then graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1970. He had an internship and residency at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In 1974, he was assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., as the chief of pathology. Sayers then retired from the Army and opened Sardis Medical Center in Sardis, Ga., where he served the community as a physician for more than 28 years.
He was an active member of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Augusta and the Georgia-Lina Emmaus Community.
Sayers was buried at Westover Memorial Park in Augusta.
(Edited from information provided by the family.)