01/31/2013 06:25 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2013

Washington Inmates Rescue 3 Boys From Drowning In Raging Creek

When three brothers fell into Salmon Creek in southwest Washington, inmates working nearby dove into the freezing water to save them Wednesday afternoon, The Columbian reports.

"Just cause we're incarcerated, doesn't mean we're bad people. We made some bad choices in our lives, but we're still, we're just like everybody else. We're just paying our debt for what we did wrong," Jon Fowler, 28, one of the inmates, told KPTV.

Fowler was part of a 10-person work crew from the prison doing supervised maintenance at a nearby park, the Columbian reports.

“We just thought it was some kids screaming until we seen their two heads bobbing in the water with the canoe upside down," 37-year-old Nelson Pettis, an inmate at Larch Corrections Center told KPTV.

The boys, ages 8, 10 and 16 years old, were canoeing when their boat capsized at around 12:30 p.m., firefighters told the news outlet.

“I don’t think I was thinking at all,” Pettis told The Columbian, describing how he jumped into the water and let the current take him until he could touch the ground. Once he grabbed the boys, he got them to a strainer and waited for the rescue crew, he told the news outlet.

Larry Bohn, 29, another member of the inmate crew, jumped in the water to help the 16-year-old boy get to shore, according to the news outlet. Afterwards, he went back into the water to help Pettis with the younger boys.

Both men took off their shirts and wrapped them around the children to keep them warm. Bohn remembers the 8-year-old boy’s lips turning blue, he told The Columbian.

“He looked real bad,” Bohn told the news outlet. “They were saying 'thank you' repeatedly. They just seemed really scared.”

According to Clark County Fire District 6 Chief Jerry Green, the water was a chilling 45 degrees and the current was raging at an estimated 25 to 30 mph -- faster than usual due to increased rainfall.

The three boys and two inmates were taken to a local hospital and treated for mild hypothermia, he told the AP.

Although the inmates are lauded for their actions, they don’t consider themselves heroes.

"I think we did something that any good person would do. You see three helpless kids in a river, you help. That's what you do," Fowler, who helped the rescue crew inflate its boat and helped carry the 10-year-old boy to one of the ambulances, told KPTV.



Ordinary Heroes, Extraordinary Courage