A Fort Campbell soldier is being praised for his heroic actions Sunday after he dove into a river to rescue a drowning autistic teenager who became separated from his family while tubing down the river.
Martie Weeks, the teen’s mother, told FOX 17 that she, along with her three sons and a group of friends, was floating down the Red River located in Clarksville, Tennessee, when a strong current caused by a fallen tree knocked Ronnie Harris, 17, off his tube.
“The current picked up, and the tree, along with the rocks at the bottom of the river, create a kind of rip tide,” Weeks said.
Weeks said she tried to make her way over to her son, but the current was too strong. She added that her son tried to stand but could not keep his head above water due to the current’s pull.
“I was thinking I don’t want to drown right here. I don’t want to drown today,” Harris said. “I don’t want to die today.”
The mother said she “kept praying” as her son struggled to stay above water before he went face down in the river.
“I just kept praying, ‘God please don’t take this child from me, please, somebody hear me,'” she told FOX17.
It was at that moment U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Timothy Hansen jumped into the river to save Harris.
After Hansen made the rescue, he performed chest compressions until Harris was able to breathe again.
“I turn around, and I see somebody go under a tree, and I dropped my phone, and everything I had in my hands and I took off running to go help and assist,” Hansen said.
Weeks hailed Hansen as a “hero” for coming to her son’s aid.
Hansen, on the other hand, is just happy to help someone in need.
“That’s not an easy title to earn,” said Hansen, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who served in the Army for ten years. “I’m just glad I could help.”
Hansen is not the first soldier to save civilians from drowning.
WNDU reports that a soldier stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, saved an Oregon family from drowning in a river in 2014. He received a Soldier’s Medal from the Under Secretary of the Army in 2016 for his heroic efforts.
Another soldier from Fort Benning, Georgia, also received the Soldier’s Medal in 2015 after he saved two boys from drowning, the Ledger-Inquirer reports.