William E. Phelps saved Richard A. Humbles and attempted to save William H. Humbles from drowning, Nags Head, North Carolina, August 24, 1961. In the surf of the Atlantic Ocean Humbles, 43, farmer, went to the aid of his son Richard, 11, and an undercurrent carried both farther from shore. When Humbles became inert, Richard held to him and called for help. Phelps, 27, student, ran 400 feet to the water’s edge, undressing to his underdrawers along the way. Swimming through breakers two to three feet high, Phelps reached Richard 385 feet from shore in deep water. Richard then clung to a small inflated fabric raft and to his father, who was submerged. Phelps submerged, brought Humbles to the surface, and maneuvered him partially onto the raft, where Richard held him. Phelps attempted to tow them toward shore but could make no progress because of the undercurrent. After towing them 30 feet parallel to shore, he found the current somewhat less strong. With much effort Phelps then towed them slowly shoreward, tiring rapidly. A hundred and fifty-five feet from shore he touched bottom. He then waded backwards, jumping with the breakers, and towed Humbles and Richard to within 50 feet of the beach, from where he let a breaker carry Richard to shallow water. The breaker also swept Humbles from the raft, but Phelps quickly regained hold of him. Another breaker then knocked Phelps from his feet, and he sank to the bottom with Humbles atop him. Very weak and winded, Phelps was rolled by the breaker action to within 30 feet of shore but retained his hold on Humbles. Phelps then crawled shoreward, dragging Humbles to within 10 feet of the beach. A man helped Phelps remove Humbles from the water. Humbles could not be revived.
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