Ronnie Joe Simmons attempted to save Linda G. Hanson and saved Brenda T. Barnette from drowning, Gadsden, Alabama, March 22, 1964. When Linda, 15, fell into a pool in Black Creek and sank in water 20 feet deep, her 16-year-old escort and Ronnie Joe, 16, service station attendant, who was with Brenda,16, immediately dived into the water. While the two youths were searching for Linda in the cloudy water in which there were strong undercurrents and submerged rocks, Brenda also fell into the pool and was submerged briefly. Aware that Brenda could not swim, Ronnie Joe swam to her. She grasped him around the neck, causing them to be submerged. Ronnie Joe broke free of Brenda and then took her to the surface. The other youth, becoming numb from the icy water after making a number of surface dives to look for Linda, swam to a rock projecting above the surface of the pool, in which there was no wadable water. Brenda squirmed as Ronnie Joe, feeling the effects of the cold water, towed her 25 feet to one of the large boulders along the bank. Fatigued, Ronnie Joe obtained a hold on a small ledge eighteen inches above the water. Brenda again grasped him around the neck, causing him to lose his hold. They were submerged, and Brenda clung to Ronnie Joe’s leg as he surfaced. He regained his hold on the ledge and raised Brenda’s head above water. The other youth swam to Ronnie Joe and clung to him briefly while regaining his wind. He then worked his way up Ronnie Joe’s body onto the ledge and climbed to atop the boulder. Brenda did likewise with assistance from the youth. Although his legs nearly were numb, Ronnie Joe climbed onto the ledge and was aided to the top of the boulder. Rescue squads later recovered the body of Linda.
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