A Manitoba boy who saved his younger brother from being swept away by the Ruby River near Kenville in 2021 has been honoured by the Lifesaving Society.
Deegan Campbell received the Rescue Commendation Award on Thursday for his heroics in saving his 10-year-old brother, Atticus, from being pulled under a strong current in June 2021.
“The award recognizes individuals who acted with resourcefulness and courage to aid an individual in distress in a water-related rescue,” the Lifesaving Society, said in a release.
Deegan said he was swimming in the river with Atticus and the currents were higher than normal.
“While we were swimming, my brother got swept away, down the river a little bit. And I didn’t really notice at all until I heard him yelling out.
Deegan’s brother was holding on to a part of a partially made beaver dam which slowed him down a little bit.
“That allowed me to get to him,” he recalled. “I was trying to get to shore, but because of currents and stuff, it swept us down the river a little bit more.”
Deegan ended up going fully underwater and Atticus began to push him underneath.
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“My brother was already through water and underwater. He was frantic. So because he was panicking, he pushed me down underneath the water.”
Eventually, Deegan said he was able to hold his breath and resurface.
“Then I just kind of crawl on the river floor, whatever you want to call it, with my brother on my back.”
It was an intense moment for everyone involved and Deegan is being commended for his quick thinking. He advised anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation to remain calm.
“Try to focus and try to assess what’s the best way to get them safe.”
Deegan’s mom Keziah was at home during the incident and his dad was at the river with him and Atticus.
When asked about her son’s heroic action she said, “I thank God today that he was there.” She also explained how quickly the water levels can change.
“We were there, I think, a weekend before and there was hardly any water. The kids barely had enough to actually swim in.”
“But then, days before the kids went back with my husband, it had rained. So then the river kind of went up a little bit. And then that’s what made the strong current. You never know what the river is going to do.”
Deegan was among one of 17 Manitobans recognized recently for their quick thinking and skillful response.
And the Lifesaving Society said drowning remains the third-leading cause of unintended death in the province.
“It’s just a kind of weird feeling knowing that if it wasn’t for me, he maybe wouldn’t be here.”