The right place at the right time—that’s where 16-year-old Corion Evans was when a car full of three teenage girls drove into a river in Mississippi.
Now hailed as a hero, the powerful young swimmer rescued all three girls plus a police officer who had jumped in to help, but ended up swallowing water.
It was 2:30 AM on the I-10 boat ramp in Moss Point, Mississippi when, following their GPS, three teenage girls drove their car off a boat ramp and floated 25 yards out into the Pascagoula River before it started sinking.
They managed to get out of the car and onto the roof, according to ABC news. Evans heard them crying for help, and took off his shirt, shoes, and his left his phone behind him as he jumped into the water.
“I was just like, ‘I can’t let none of these folks die,’” Evans, who said he had been a strong swimmer since age 3, told local news at the time. “‘They need to get out the water’. So, I just started getting them, I wasn’t even thinking about nothing else.”
Moss Point Police Officer Gary Mercer arrived on the scene, and he too swam out to aid in the rescue.
Evan’s friend Karen Bradley also jumped in, and as the rescuers were helping the victims to shore, the story took another unlucky turn. Denver news reported that Officer Mercer was too close to a struggling victim and was pushed under where he inhaled water.
“I turned around. I see the police officer,” Evans said. “He’s drowning. He’s going underwater, drowning, saying, ‘Help!” So, I went over there. I went and I grabbed the police officer and I’m like swimming him back until I feel I can walk.”
Evans and Bradley helped the three girls and officer to the shore, while describing the ordeal as very tiring.
“The police department and I commend Mr. Evans’s bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking his own safety to help people in danger,” Moss Point Chief Brandon Ashley said in a statement. “If Mr. Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically instead of all occupants rescued safely.”
Despite a bout of vomiting from water inhalation, all four are expected to make a full recovery. Evans and Officer Mercer afterwards were given certificates of commendation from the City of Moss Point.
Many lessons can be drawn from this story: don’t trust your GPS around poorly marked waterways, don’t get too near a drowning person, not all heroes wear capes, and keeping yourself capable of swimming 75 yards might save your life, or someone else’s.