Thomas David Finn saved James D. Byrge from drowning, Rock Island, Tennessee, May 3, 1987. James, 16, slipped and fell into the Caney Fork River in an area where whitewater rapids and waterfalls created a strong whirlpool. Hampered by his clothing and the cold water, James shouted for help, then submerged. On the bank nearby, Finn, 30, heavy equipment operator, dived into the river, swam to James, and pulled him to the surface of the water. James panicked as he and Finn were swept around the whirlpool several times, during which Finn kept them from entering whitewater rapids downstream. Three more times Finn retrieved James when he submerged. Finn managed to maneuver to the outer edge of the whirlpool, and when they neared a bank of the river, others extended a limb to them and pulled them from the water. James was hospitalized for five days for hypothermia and water in his system; he recovered. Finn recovered from exhaustion.
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