Two Lowndes County conservation officers are being credited with saving the life of an 11-year-old boy who nearly drowned in the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway on Memorial Day.
Corp. Travis McDonald and Corp. Marc McCleskey were patrolling the waterway on a boat at about 2:20 p.m. Monday when they approached the Riverwalk area in Columbus. McCleskey happened to notice several children waving their hands at them. He turned the boat around to evaluate the situation, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks.
One of the children told McDonald and McCleskey that his brother had gone under the water and not resurfaced, officials say.
While McDonald operated the boat, McCleskey took off his duty gear and jumped into the water. On his third dive, he found the boy on the bottom of the river channel. The boy was unresponsive and McCleskey pulled him onto the bank, officials say.
McCleskey and McDonald then alternated giving the boy chest compressions and eventually he began breathing.
Emergency responders arrived on scene and transported the boy to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle.
Anthony Colom with Columbus Fire and Rescue said the child was ultimately flown to University Medical Center in Jackson, where he remains.
Officials have not released the boy’s name.
In a press release Tuesday, Col. Steve Adcock, law enforcement chief with MDWFP, commended McCleskey and McDonald for “their diligence and determination” in saving the child’s life.
“Most Mississippians have little knowledge of neither the training that conservation officers receive nor the amount of public service work they perform,” Adcock said.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.