Shining moments: River rescue

Seeking relief from the summer heat, Dan Butts and his sister, Sarah, walked about a mile from their grandmother's house in Gold Hill, Ore., to the Rogue River for a morning swim on Aug. 11, 1992.

They were on a family vacation from Seward, Alaska, and made swimming a daily activity as temperatures soared.When Dan and Sarah, both good swimmers, arrived at the wide, green river, there were only a few other people around including some boys having a good time diving off the rocks on the opposite bank.

Dan, a priest in the Seward Branch, Soldotna Alaska Stake, decided to relax on the beach. Sarah, a curious 13-year-old, swam across the river to where the boys were diving.

By the time she got there, the boys had moved up the river. Sarah climbed up on the rocks, looked down and contemplated jumping. But suddenly she lost her balance and fell onto some rocks below and then into the water.

She tried to swim back across the river, but in the fall had fractured her arm and cut a deep gash in her heel. She yelled to Dan that she could not make it back.

Dan jumped up and saw Sarah floundering in the water and heading for rapids where she would be in great danger of drowning. He rushed into the water, but when he reached Sarah, she was panicky and started climbing on him.

He calmed her down by talking to her, then told her to turn around so he could get her in the lifeguard position of tow by the chin. To avoid the rapids, Dan struggled to swim upstream through a scum of yellow pollen on the water.

He finally got Sarah to shore and a bystander ran to get help. Dan could see blood gushing from Sarah's leg and applied direct pressure with his hands to stop it. By the time the paramedics arrived 10 minutes later, Dan's arms were aching and he felt like he might pass out. But he held on.

Sarah has since fully recovered from her injuries.

For his willingness to risk his own life to save another, Dan received The Honor Medal from the Boy Scouts of America. "I was thankful for the skills I learned in Boy Scouting," he said.

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