Man sacrifices life to rescue 8-year-old drowning in Saint Joseph River

NOW: Man sacrifices life to rescue 8-year-old drowning in Saint Joseph River

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- On Friday afternoon, 8-year-old Levi Evett was enjoying the day on the Saint Joseph River with two adults and a few other kids when Levi began to struggle swimming.

A family friend, whose name hasn't been publicly released yet, quickly sprang into action, jumping off the pontoon boat to rescue Levi.

Levi’s mom, who wasn’t there at the time, saying both the man and Levi were submerged underwater, with the man pushing Levi high enough so he could gasp for air.

Levi’s mom also says two other men from South Bend, just camping on the river for the weekend, quickly swam over to help.

While Levi was rescued, unfortunately, the rescuer did not reappear.

His body was found Sunday morning – just half a mile down the river.

A man who willingly gave his life, to save young Levi’s.

A heroic act — but far too often, we hear of drownings in Michiana waters and it’s a situation many people haven’t been taught how to get out of.

“We see someone in trouble and we immediately want to help, it’s our instinct to just take action,” said Dave Benjamin from Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

But Benjamin says jumping in isn’t the first thing we should do in an emergency. You should immediately throw a flotation device into the water. As for the person drowning —

“You flip over on your back and float," said Benjamin. "Float to keep your head above water, float to calm yourself down from fear of drowning, float to conserve your energy and then follow a safe path out of the water."

Also, it’s important for people to be able to spot active signs of drowning.

“Facing shore, mouth at water level, head titled back, their body is vertical, less than one minute until submersion,” said Benjamin.

And most importantly, Benjamin says you should always have life jackets when around any body of water.

“We don’t want someone’s special day at the beach or on the water to become a lifelong tragedy that they now have to bear the burden of.”

Another water safety tip Benjamin’s notes is when renting a kayak or paddle board, you should always ask for a safety briefing beforehand and make sure there is a leash attached to the equipment so you can be pulled back to shore if you have any problems.

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