When a toddler was in grave danger, Casey Brown and Brian Bain, friends since pre-K, sprung into action without saying a word.
The two 13-year-old Chestatee Middle School students this month were given the Hall County Sheriff’s Office lifesaving award for rescuing a 3-year-old who was at risk of serious injury at a boat dock on Lake Lanier last summer.
Norm and Jeanne Kraemer had tied their 20-foot pontoon boat up to the Brown family’s dock with their 3-year-old great-grandson, J.J. Walters, on board. Jeanne Kraemer was watching the boy while Brian and Casey took turns diving from the top of the dock. Big waves from a busy Saturday of lake traffic crashed against the dock.
The toddler, who was wearing a life preserver, tried to walk from the boat to the dock.
“The dock went up and the boat went down, and he went straight down between them,” said Norm Kraemer. “There’s 3,000 pounds of boat knocking against the dock.”
Jeanne Kraemer screamed in panic, physically unable to reach the boy.
Brian and Casey responded swiftly. Brian pushed the boat back from the dock, while Casey swam to J.J. and helped lift him up to Brian. It all happened in a minute or less.
“It was just instinct,” Brian said.
“I was just thinking, ‘get him out of there,’” Casey said. “It was like my body just took over.”
“It was like they had rehearsed it,” said Kraemer. “I’m just glad those boys were there. If they’re not there and my wife can’t get to him, J.J. could have been crushed.”
The Kraemers nominated Brian and Casey for the sheriff’s award, only the second time it has been awarded to civilians in Sheriff Steve Cronic’s nine-plus years in office.
“Young men of this caliber are the future of our community,” Cronic said. “I commend them for their teamwork and courageous actions that resulted in a very happy ending that day.”
It’s not the first time Brian has potentially saved a life, said his mother, Jeannie. When he was 4, Brian noticed his mother seemed ill and went next door to get help without prompting. Jeannie Bain was hospitalized for more than a month with a pulmonary embolism.
“He’s got an instinct in him,” Jeannie Bain said. “I am tickled he’s being recognized for this, because he saved my life, too.”
Casey, a Boy Scout, will be awarded with a national scout recognition next month.
Both boys are a little embarrassed by all the attention.
“I didn’t think it would be like this,” Brian said.
Casey said the experience has made his and Brian’s good friendship even more meaningful.
“We realize what kind of good we can do together,” he said.