Local lifeguard saves swimmer first day on the job | CraigDailyPress.com

Local lifeguard saves swimmer first day on the job

Hudson Jones honored for heroic actions

Hudson Jones, 15, is a lifeguard at the Craig Swimming Center. His first day on the job last month he saved a young swimmer from potentially drowning.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

It’s not every day a Craig lifeguard is called into life-saving action.

But, for Hudson Jones, it must have felt like it.

Jones, 15, was working his very first day as a lifeguard at the Craig Swimming Complex early last month when he found himself facing the ultimate test of duty. He responded to the call, and he may have saved a life.

“It was my first day, and I was kind of nervous,” Jones said this week, recalling the incident from June 3. “It’s kind of a big job.”

Jones was watching the wave pool, and it wasn’t long until he noticed a youngster drifting too deep into the waves.

“At first, he’s bobbing up and down, and right away I thought maybe he’s messing around,” Jones said. “He’ll stop soon? But he kept going and couldn’t come above the water. I stood up for a better look, and there’s this woman by him, I think maybe it’s his mom and she might grab him. She didn’t, so that’s when I jumped in.”

Jones had never done this before, but he relied on his training. Something was wrong; he was compelled to respond.

The woman who trained him was moments away.

“I hear a double whistle, that means (a lifeguard) jumped in,” said Caroline Riley, aquatics manager for the city of Craig and the pool’s lifeguard instructor. “I race out, and Hudson had carried this kid to the shallow end of the wave pool.”

Jones recalled asking the child if he was OK once he reached him on the deep end of the wave pool.

“He said, ‘No,’” Jones said. “I realized this might be kind of bad.”

The youngster wasn’t all the way out of the woods yet. He’d swallowed an enormous amount of water, much of which he threw up, Riley and Jones recalled. Fortunately, Jones followed his training and had the boy on his side. Soon, an ambulance was called, and though the boy had largely recovered, he was transported to the hospital for further treatment.

But it may not have ended up that way if not for Jones’s quick action.

“(Jones) is literally a true hero,” Riley said. “He’d seen the kid go past where he could touch and in seconds he was there. Any second difference could’ve changed the outcome.”

Jones, who was honored in a standing-room-only, overflowing city council ceremony last week, is a bit sheepish about the plaudits.

“Honestly, I don’t feel like a hero,” he said. “I was just doing my job. But I’m glad the kid’s OK. I don’t know if it’s enough to classify me as being a hero.”

Regardless, the intensity of the moment has stuck with the young Moffat County High School student.

“It didn’t hit me until the next day, really, the emotions of it, and then it was like, ‘Wow, that really happened,’” he said. “And then the what-ifs start playing in my head. What if I hadn’t jumped in at the right time? Every day I’m in that chair it’s a little less, but it’s just, that’s what happened. Those scenarios run through your head.”

And, though humble, Jones, who said he hopes to be accepted to the Air Force Academy once he graduates, said he appreciates what’s been said and done by the community about him since that day.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “I really appreciate everyone doing that for me. It’s cool, but honestly, I don’t know. Because it could’ve been someone else, they would’ve performed the same. Caroline’s training — that’s what helped. I have to thank her. I would not have known what to do.”

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