Two Missouri teens are being hailed heroes for saving a woman from drowning after a June storm dumped six inches of rain over Columbia, Missouri with little warning. The fast moving storm caused flash flooding with creek waters bursting their banks, causing overflow zones to turn into ponds.
Boyscouts Joseph Diener, 16, and Dominic Viet, 15, were exploring the scene of their hometown to survey the damage after the massive rainfall flooded parts of the city. The two, along with a few other friends, were biking past a basketball court when they heard someone calling for help. The group of teens saw a woman in a bathing suit, clinging to a basketball hoop that was nearly entirely submerged in the floodwaters. The young woman was desperately trying to keep her head above water under the force of a current.
The two took “about 30 seconds” to realize they had to take action, Joseph said. There was a small group of people gathered near the woman already, Dominic said. “We didn’t have time to think, her head was barely above the water and we could see her sinking more down every second. We didn’t think about the risks, we had to get her out.” The two teens hoisted her up onto their shoulders because her legs were cramping. “There were some currents trying to pull us down too, because — I don’t know —it’s not normal water,” Dominic said.
The two were able to get her to solid ground where she started throwing up water. Emergency services arriving at someone else’s call performed first aid and rushed her to the hospital. Assistant Fire Chief Jerry Jenkins described the boys’ act as heroic and brave, as did Dominic’s mother Monica Viet, who had been calling her son to warn him of another storm rolling through and was growing nervous. She sent her husband to where they were located and when he saw the ambulance and fire truck, she said her heart sank. “You know, my mind went to the place where he was the one who was injured,” she said. “I didn’t realize that he was out there saving somebody! But then he saw them on their bikes heading back to their friend’s house, and I got a text from Dominic saying ‘Coming home soon, just saved a woman’s life Mom.’”
The fire department honored the two boys with a “Citizen Life Safety Award” for their heroic rescue. Both teens are Life Scouts, which is the last level before Eagle Scout. Neither are working on any lifeguarding skills as part of their upcoming projects, but their scoutmaster, Morgan Dailey, that they might get badges for their honorary action. “There’s a heavy emphasis on being prepared and especially being prepared for emergency situations and this clearly was an emergency situation.”