St. Paul Workers Help Save 2 Young Boys During Water Rescue in Mississippi River

June 21, 2018 10:25 PM

Young boys had to be rescued by good Samaritans after an accident at Raspberry Island in St. Paul Thursday.

St. Paul Fire tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a 10-year-old boy fell into the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Then, his 14-year-old cousin jumped in to save him, only to need rescuing himself.


Officials said the river conditions contributed to the terrifying scene on Thursday.

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"They were both playing, one slipped and went in and the other one went in after him," said Deputy Chief Alan Gabriel, with St. Paul Fire. 

Gabriel said two railroad workers with Union Pacific first noticed a problem and took control of a boat rescuing the 14-year-old in the middle of the river. Then, employees from Upper River Services stepped in to help his younger cousin. 

"We all knew what we had to do, fire up the pike and away we went," said Ben Brooks, an employee with Upper River Services. 

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Stuck in between two barges, rescuers found the 10-year-old hanging on to a piece of driftwood.

"If he let go he would have gone right under the barge," said Randy Kohl, an employee with Upper River Services. 

Holding on tightly to the only thing keeping him alive between the massive barges, fire officials say the 10-year-old finally grabbed a life vest thanks to the employees at Upper River Services. 

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"We finally got close enough where we could reach out and grab him," Brooks said. 

"It was a relief, it put me into tears. I've got a 10-year-old grandson," Kohl said. 

This isn't the first time this company has jumped into first responder mode. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard honored employees at Upper River Services after saving a man who jumped from the Robert Street Bridge in May. 

"They hear the call and we're so proud of how quickly they reacted," said Lee Nelson, with Upper River Services. 

The water on the Mississippi may not look too dangerous, but experts are stressing the opposite.

"The current is very strong and the tide is elevated quite a bit over 10 feet above normal, it's not done rising yet so our advice would be to stay away from the river," Gabriel said. "It could have been a tragedy."

Fire officials say the boys are doing just fine. They didn't need to go to the hospital, and were just a bit shaken up.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to Union Pacific to hear about their rescue story but never heard back.


Brett Hoffland

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