Heroic 7-Year-Old Swims For An Hour Straight To Save His Father And Sister From Drowning

What started as a family fishing trip turned into complete chaos in Florida in Spring of 2021. Chase Poust and his 4-year-old sister Abigail were accompanying their father on a fishing trip. The two were swimming when the unthinkable happened — Abigail let go of the boat after a strong current hit and was swept farther away.
In an attempt to save his sister, Chase tried to quickly grab her. But in doing so, the current took him, too. Seeing his two children in danger, their father Steven dove from the boat to try to rescue the pair. But soon, all three of them were stranded in the water.

One of the scariest parts is that out of the three, only Abigail was wearing a life jacket. And that's why Steven knew that his son was their only real hope for survival. He'd stay behind with his daughter, hoping that Chase would alert someone back at shore.

That's a tall order for a 7-year-old, and surely it was a scary call for their dad to make. The incident, which took place in the St. Johns River, was one that Steven will never forget. "I told them I loved him because I wasn't sure what's going to happen," he told News 4 Jax. "I tried to stick with both of them. I wore myself out. She drifted away from me."

Chase was also a bit terrified, but he sprung into action. "I felt really scared," he said. Still without a life jacket, he knew it was up to him to save both his dad and his sister. And even then, it was likely worrisome to leave them behind. He even had a method of staying strong while making the big swim back — he dog-paddled and sometimes floated on his back to take breaks.

"The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way," Chase explained to News 4 Jax. It took him about an hour to swim the distance, and when he made it back to shore, he knocked on the first door he could find. Jacksonville firefighters were just one of the many teams to help with his family's rescue.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were also there to lend a hand and save the family. Steven admits that it was a terrifying experience, but he gives credit where credit is due.

"I screamed for help at the top of my lungs and waved my arms and sure enough someone heard us," he said. "Little man also made it to shore and got help and that's what saved our lives."

Steven even having to make that call is heartbreaking for most families. While he knew his son was his only hope, it would also have been terrible if Chase hadn't survived the swim back. Luckily, using his knowledge paid off. While it's a shame that the family didn't all have jackets on, at least Chase seemed knowledgeable about the currents and what it would take to make the trip back to shore.

While the lack of life jackets is upsetting, technically Steven and Chase were following the rules. The policy is set so that it's mandatory for children 6 and under to wear one. Children 7 and above don't have to. But this incident — and many like it — proves that perhaps that policy needs to be changed.

While Chase and his family got lucky, it would have been much easier for the family if they were all afloat. Even though Chase made it safely back to shore, it was reportedly another hour until his family was rescued. Being stranded in the water for two hours, especially after already fighting currents, takes a lot of strength.

Spokesperson Eric Prosswimmer talked about the rescue shortly after it happened, saying that it was an incredible recovery. "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, per CNN. "We couldn't ask for a better outcome."

While Chase managed to save the day, he's not very clear about how he did it. It seems as if adrenaline may have taken over. A reporter asked him, "How did you get so good at being in the water and dealing with those situations?"

Chase had a very relatable answer: "I have no idea."

After the rescue, when the family was determined to be safe, audio recordings hit the internet from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue department. "I don’t know how far he could have swam on this own," a member of the department said, per Yahoo! News. "We're still missing a four-year-old girl and a father. The 4-year-old girl had a life jacket on, the father went in after her."

The audio is likely chilling for Steven, especially since he had to live through it. Even though everyone is safe, this is still a big memory that'll have further impact on how they approach boating and fishing. That said, it's still a moment of power for Chase. He, himself, was put in a terrifying situation, and he handled it beautifully.

If the story makes you think about what you'd do in a similar situation, it may be time to talk about boat and water safety with your own kids — especially since warmer weather is approaching. Water incidents can happen so quickly, and it's never a bad move to take as many precautions as possible. The first rule is that nobody should ever swim alone.

Knowing how to swim is another important task. At the age of 7, Chase likely wasn't the strongest swimmer. His method of dog-paddling and taking back-float breaks helped him get to shore. It's never too early to enroll your children in swim classes so that they feel more confident while in the water. Of course, for smaller children, flotation devices can help a lot when it comes to accidents.

It's also not a bad idea to continue reminding your children of safety precautions. You can set up drills so that they know what steps to take if accidents do happen. Water accidents can also happen at home, so it's always important to ensure that your pools are always covered when not in use, and an adult is always nearby to supervise. Taking these steps will help you save lives.

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