‘I can’t let none of these folks die’: Hero teen, 16, dives into alligator-infested Mississippi river to rescue three girls AND cop from drowning after car sank
- Corion Evans, 16, is being hailed as a hero after he jumped into the
- Pascagoula River at around 2.30am on Sunday to rescue three girls and a police officer
- The girls had apparently driven off Interstate-10 straight into the water after trying to follow the directions on their GPS
- As they reached about 20ft from the shore, their car began to sink
Evans and his friends Karon ‘KJ’ and Caleb Bradley jumped into the water
- He was able to swim the girls to safety before turning around to save Moss Point Police Officer Gray Mercer, who also tried to assist in the rescue
shore of the Pascagoula River early Sunday morning when he and his friends saw a car drive over a boat launch and sink into the water.
The three girls in the car had driven off Interstate-10 straight into the water after trying to follow the directions on their GPS at around 2.30am, according to WLOX.
As they reached about 20ft from shore, their car began to sink.
‘They drove straight under the water,’ Evans told the news station. ‘Like only a little bit of the car was still above the water.’
At that point, Evans took off his shoes, shirt and phone and jumped into the river, along with his friends and brothers Karon ‘KJ’ and Caleb Bradley.
‘I was like ‘I can’t let none of these folks die. They need to get out of the water,” Evans recounted. ‘So I just started getting them. I wasn’t even thinking about nothing else.’
He said he tried to carry the three girls above water and swim with them to shore.
But as Evans was making his rescue, he said he noticed Moss Point Police Officer Gray Mercer was also struggling in the water after he, too, dove into help the girls.
‘I turned around, I see the police officer,’ Evans said. ‘He’s drowning. He’s going underwater, drowning saying ‘Help.’
‘So I went over there. I went and I grabbed the police officer and I’m like swimming him back until I feel I can walk.’
Eventually, Moss Point police say, Evans helped get all three girls and Mercer to the shore, where they began ‘throwing up because a lot of water had gotten inside all of them.’ ‘It was a lot of swimming,’ Evans explained. ‘My legs were so tired after.’
He noted that ‘anything could’ve been in that water,’ which is home to about 13,000 alligators, according to the Jackson Free Press.
‘But I wasn’t thinking about it,’ Evans said.
The victims were brought to a local hospital in the aftermath, and WLOX reports that Mercer is expected to be back on the force later this week.
On Wednesday, one of the survivors, 19-year-old Cora Watson returned to the river, where she recounted the fateful experience, after sharing on Facebook that Evans ‘saved my life right before my last breath.’
She told WLOX how she was sitting in the back seat of a car when she and her two friends drove off the I-10 boat launch straight into the river.
‘It’s no lights down here or nothing, so everything was just pitch black,’ Watson said. ‘The GPS thought we was on top of the interstate. That’s why it was telling us to go straight, because it did not say it was water here or nothing.’
According to Moss Point police, the car traveled about 20 feet before it started to sink. At that point, Watson said she and the other girls climbed out the passenger window.
‘I automatically went straight down,’ said Watson, who admitted she does not know how to swim. ‘I still had my phone, like, trying to keep it above water.’
On the line was 911, working to track down their location.
Eventually, she said, she saw her friends make it to shore.
‘But it’s like, I’m the only one, I was the only one, like left in the water.’
‘I heard Cora screaming ‘Help,’ Caleb Bradley recounted, adding: ‘I thought she was done. We had no choice but to help,’ he said.
His brother noted that his first reaction to the sight was to get in the water. ‘It was like, if you weren’t gonna get in the water, you would just watch them die or something like that.’
Watson said that as they entered the river, she was bobbing up and down struggling to breathe.
She said she knew ‘if I inhale one more bit of water, I’m going to die. Like I just knew I was. I knew my last breath was coming.
‘And so I just let my phone down. My mind already said, like, ‘you’re slowly losing yourself.’
‘When I tell you, right before my last dying breath underwater, that was gonna be my last time going underwater, Corion had grabbed me.’
Watson said she is now grateful to be alive, but is still recovering emotionally from the experience.
‘I can’t walk into no dark room that’s pitch black because I automatically go back straight into the water,’ she said, adding: ‘Through random times, I just start hearing the water, I start hearing the bridge.’
Meanwhile, Evans is being hailed in his community as a hero. His mother, Marquita Evans, said she is proud of her son because he ‘wasn’t just thinking about himself.
‘He was trying to really get all those people out the water,’ she said, adding: ‘I’m glad nothing happened to him while he was trying to save other people’s lives.’
Moss Point Chief Brandon Ashley also said in a statement: ‘The police department and I commend Mr Evans’ bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking hi sown safety to help people in danger.
‘If Mr Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically, instead of all occupants rescued safely.’
On Tuesday, Mayor Billy Knight recognized him and Officer Mercer for their bravery, presenting both of them with certificates of commendation.