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Michigan boy rescues local children from gulf

By Staff | Aug 20, 2009

A pair of children swimming near Blind Pass were rescued around 4 p.m. on Thursday by a 14-year-old boy after a strong current unexpectedly carried the locals a half of a mile into the Gulf of Mexico.

Corey Saladin of Reed City, Mich. said he realized something was wrong when he heard two young people calling for help near the shore.

“Me and my mom were on the beach collecting shells. We heard this little girl and a boy close to the shore yelling ‘Help, help!’ and I looked further out to see who was out there and I saw the two little girls,” Saladin said.

In what was undoubtedly a brilliant burst of quick thinking, Saladin grabbed an abandoned boogie board and headed out into the water.

“I said, ‘Mom, they need help’ so I ran behind her and grabbed the boogie board. She thought that I was just going to help the boy and the girl that were closer, but I thought to go for the ones farther out because I had the boogie board and I knew that they would need that more,” he said.

Saladin and his mother, Katie Young, said that the girls were so far out that they couldn’t tell at the time whether they were young or old.

“Two of them were coming closer to shore, but the other two were moving farther out. They were a half mile out and we could barely see their heads,” said Young, noting her first thought was that Saladin was going to assist the kids closest to the shore, not the young girls out in the gulf.

“I was crying and jumping up and down on shore, yelling for him to swim faster and come back,” Young said, her voice breaking.

“I didn’t want him to drown. I was terrified. But he knew he could do it. He just knew.”

“That was the one thing that I was worried about, them getting hurt and drowning or something,” Saladin said.

Realizing that the boogie board was slowing him down, Saladin attached it to his wrist and continued making his way out to the girls. He helped them onto the board and the three of them took turns kicking to shore.

“When he came back he just sat down on the beach because he was so worn out,” Young said.

“I didn’t believe he was a strong enough swimmer to do that. And I guess I didn’t realize how strong he really is for 14. I should know that he runs all the time and he’s athletic…but you never know. We’re not from around here,” she continued.

Saladin is modest about his daring rescue, but says he wishes that more people, in general, were capable and healthy enough to help should an emergency like Thursday’s occur in front of them.

“Things like that happen, and people should learn to be able to save a life – teenagers and adults – because this could happen to anyone,” he said.

Saladin – in addition to being a hero – runs track, is a youth camp counselor during the summers and helps with United Way and the elderly.

“I’m just so impressed by him and I’m so proud. I had no idea that he could do that. He’s my hero,” Young said.

Saladin is visiting his grandmother in Lehigh Acres and plans to celebrate a birthday at Disney World before heading back to Michigan to begin the ninth grade.