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‘I Can’t Let None of These Folks Die’: Mississippi Teen Saves Three Girls, Police Officer from Drowning

A teenager is being heralded for his bravery after risking his life to save four people from drowning in the Pascagoula River in Mississippi. One of the victims said the boy saved her life right before she took her “last breath.”

Chief Brandon Ashley of the Moss Point Police Department gave his commendation to Corion Evans, a 16-year-old Black boy, who jumped into a river to save the lives of strangers on Sunday, July 3. The Pascagoula High student witnessed a vehicle with three teenage girls inside drive off an I-10 boat launch into the water around 2:30 a.m.

According to an MPPD report, “The driver of that vehicle stated she was following her GPS and did not realize she was going into the water.”

The vehicle floated approximately 20 feet from the river’s bank and started sinking — sparking Evans’ sense of alarm. 

In an interview with WLOX, he said, “They drove straight under the water. Like, only a little bit of the car was still above the water.”

After seeing the people were in crisis, he took off his shoes and shirt, set down his phone, and dove into the river, which some scientists believe is “the last major river system in the lower forty-eight states and southern Canada unaltered by dams, channelization, levees, or similar human impact.” 

Evans, who says he has been swimming since he was three years old, said, “I was just like, ‘I can’t let none of these folks die. They need to get out the water’. So, I just started getting them. I wasn’t even thinking about nothing else.”

“I was behind them trying to keep them above water and swim with them at the same time,” the boy remarked.

Karon “KJ” Bradley, Evans’ friend who was with him, also assisted in saving the three teenage girls who could have drowned in the water by jumping in after Evans and helping to get the girls to the top of the vehicle.

After the two teen boys were helping the girls, Moss Point police officer Gary Mercer, who answered a call for help, swam out to assist the two heroes. But he was overwhelmed by the water, according to Evans.

While Officer Mercer attempted to bring one girl to shore, she “began panicking and caused him to go under, swallowing some water,” one police report stated.

“I turned around. I see the police officer,” Evans recalled. “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 myself, I can walk.”

Chief Ashley said in a statement, “The police department and I commend Mr. Evans’s bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking his own 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.”

In a second interview, Ashley said, “I believe that if he did not decide to risk his own safety it may have turned into (an) … unimaginable tragedy.” “But we are all grateful for Mr. Evans’ selflessness and bravery he displayed by helping rescue the people stranded in the river.”

Once safely on shore, the three girls and the police officer were all taken to the hospital and are now recovering from the near-fatal accident.

The young swimmer said when they were on the shore, the teens were “throwing up because a lot of water had got inside all of them.”

Evans said, “Twenty-five yards out, so it was a lot of swimming. My legs were so tired after. Anything could’ve been in that water, though. But I wasn’t thinking about it.”

Cora Watson, one of the three girls, took to social media to celebrate Evans, writing, he “saved my life right before my last breath.”

On Tuesday, July 5, the city’s mayor Billy Knight and the board of Aldermen presented Evans with a certificate of commendation for his good deeds.

The boy’s mother, Marquita Evans, also saluted him for his good works. “I was really proud of Corion because he wasn’t just thinking about himself,” she said. “He was trying to really get all those people out the water. I’m glad nothing happened to him while he was trying to save other people’s lives.”

GoFundMe campaign has been started by Ashley DeFlanders, a person who was inspired by the story, to help Evans go to college.

“His heroic actions saved four lives during the 4th of July weekend,” the campaign reads. “Let’s reward this high school senior’s bravery and selflessness by helping him get to college in August 2023!” 

After saving the lives of others, support is pouring in to help the good samaritan change his life. 

In one day, the campaign has raised $7,570 of the $25,000 goal.  

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