This 7-year-old boy is being hailed a hero after saving the lives of his dad and younger sister when they encountered a boating mishap.
Chase Poust and his 4-year-old sister Abigail were swimming alongside their father’s anchored boat on the St. John’s River over Memorial Day weekend when tragedy struck.
The two kids were enjoying their time in the water while their dad fished when Abigail suddenly lost hold of the boat when a strong current came upon them.
“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 said in an interview with WJXT.
Steven Poust, the children’s father, jumped into the water and told Chase to swim to the shore as he attempted to retrieve Abigail, who was being carried along with the current while wearing a life vest.
“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 of the terrifying moment. “I wore myself out, and she drifted away from me.”
Chase—who didn’t have a life jacket on—admitted that he “felt really scared” at the time. But incredibly, the young boy kept his presence of mind and got into action.
The kid swam back to land and switched between doggie paddling and floating on his back to make sure he doesn’t tire out easily. Worse, the current was going the opposite way of the boat and the shore, making it harder for him to swim.
Thankfully, Chase safely made it to the coast. He said his 1-mile long journey to shore lasted approximately an hour.
Once he stepped on land, the quick-thinking youngster ran to the nearest home he could find and knocked on their door. He told them about the situation, and the residents called 911 for help.
Florida Fish and Wildlife, along with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, eventually found Steven and Abigail over a mile away from the boat after an hour-long search.
“I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough someone heard us,” Steven said.
According to WJXT, neither Chase nor Steven were required to wear a life vest. The law states that only children ages 6 and under should wear one for a vessel 26 feet long or shorter.
The children were brought to a nearby hospital to be checked for any injuries. Now, all three of them are doing well.
Eric Prosswimmer, the spokesperson for JFRD, commended the efforts of his colleagues and credited them for the success of the rescue.
“We had every resource we could have possibly had coming quickly and we’re happy to say all three have been recovered, and all three are doing well,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better outcome.”
Steven couldn’t be prouder of his son for his heroic deed. Because of his courage and presence of mind, they are all alive and safe.
“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 honestly answered: “I have no idea.”
For more on this story, watch the Poust family’s interview with WJXT in the video below.
Chase is indeed one smart and brave boy for saving his family’s life!
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