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Boy, 7, Swims a Mile to Save Dad and Sister Stuck in River: 'By the Grace of God, We're Here'

People logo People 6/1/2021 Jason Duaine Hahn
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A 7-year-old boy saved his father and younger sister by swimming a mile to get help after a boating accident over Memorial Day weekend.

Chase Poust and his 4-year-old sister, Abigail, were swimming alongside their father's anchored boat on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday night, the family told WJXT. But as the two children enjoyed their time in the water, Abigail lost hold of the boat when they were caught in a strong current.

a young boy standing next to a man smiling for the camera: "Little man ... made it to shore and got help, and that's what saved our lives," Steven Proust told WJXT of his son, Chase © NEWS4JAX/YOUTUBE "Little man ... made it to shore and got help, and that's what saved our lives," Steven Proust told WJXT of his son, Chase

"The current was so strong that my sister — she usually hangs out at the back of the boat — and she let go. So, I let go of the boat and grabbed her, and then, I was stuck," Chase told the news station.

"I felt really scared," he added.

Steven Proust, their father, jumped into the water to save them and told Chase to swim to shore as he tried to retrieve Abigail, who was being carried along with the current while wearing a floatation device.

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"I told them both I loved them because I wasn't sure what's going to happen. I tried to stick with her as long as I could," Steven recalled to WJXT. "I wore myself out, and she drifted away from me."

Chase then began the long, 1-mile swim back to land, switching between floating on his back and doggie paddling. The journey, he told the outlet, lasted an hour.

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Once he reached shore, Chase said he ran to the nearest home he could find and knocked on their door. Florida Fish and Wildlife — who were helped by Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office — eventually spotted Steven and Abigail after an hour-long search.

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WJXT said Chase and Steven were not required to wear a life vest. Only children ages 6 and under must wear one for a vessel 26 feet long or shorter.

Steven knows how fortunate they are to have made it out of the situation.

"We're here. By the grace of God, we're here," he said. "Little man … made it to shore and got help, and that's what saved our lives."

When asked how he became such a skilled swimmer, Chase was honest: "I have no idea."


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