Truman E. Nickell saved Lela D. Harper from drowning, Galveston, Texas, July 14, 1988. Lela, 11, and another girl were wading in the Gulf of Mexico when a strong current pulled them away from shore. They yelled for help. From a nearby point in the water, Nickell, 58, retired, waded to the other girl, who was his granddaughter, and took her to shore. Seeing that Lela had been carried much farther out, Nickell waded and swam about 375 feet to her. When he reached her, they struggled, submerging and re-surfacing twice. With difficulty, Nickell swam back toward shore as Lela clung to him. As they approached, Nickell pushed Lela ahead, then swam to her and pushed her again, repeating the process until they were in wadable water. On the beach, Lela was tired but uninjured. Nickell was exhausted, and he recovered.
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