Honor Medal With Crossed Palms|
At this past Sunday’s Court of Honor (February 7, 2010) Ben Hooper was presented with the Boy Scouts of America’s Highest Lifesaving Award, the Honor Medal With Crossed Palms. The award resulted from Ben’s actions during the September 2009 floods in the Atlanta area.
On September 20-22, 2009, the Atlanta area was deluged with heavy rainfall. Local creeks and rivers were at record flood stages. Flash flooding throughout the area was common. 11 people lost their lives due to the high waters.
On September 21, 2009, Andrew and Cole Hooper were playing in a neighbor’s yard, which had filled with water (from the flooded Johns Creek) due to the high rains, forming a small lake. As the rains increased, the water started to rise. Cole was soon in water up to his neck, and both boys were being drawn towards the main current of the creek, just a few feet away.
Cole and Andrew were both able to grab onto a tree to keep from being swept away (under the bridge on Twingate Drive). Josh Hooper, who had been inside doing homework, came out to where the other boys were, and also got stranded on the tree next to Cole.
Only Andrew was able to work his way back to safe ground, so he ran home to get help. Jill Hooper was at home, and as she received word that Cole and Josh were in trouble, she and Andrew went to the garage to try to find a rope or something else to use to rescue the boys in the water.
At that point, Ben and Graham arrived home from school. Once they heard the news about Cole and Josh, Andrew joined Ben in the car and they went to scene to help. Graham stayed with his mom and they were able to find a water hose and then go join the rescue effort a minute or two later.
When Jill and Graham arrived on the scene, Ben and Graham were attempting to reach the boys in the water, but the trees were too far away, and the current was too strong. Jill and Graham tried to throw the hose to Cole and Josh, who were still in the water. Josh was able to grab the hose, but when Cole attempted to grab the hose, he lost his grip on the tree and was swept under the water towards the culvert underneath Twingate Drive, which by now had less than three feet of clearance.
Graham and Ben both jumped into the water after Cole. Graham jumped first, and was swept away from Cole and under the culvert, where he was able to grab a tree and watch. Ben jumped into the water, went under the water, and came up with Cole. Ben held onto Cole, and was able to keep Cole’s head above water, while swimming through the culvert. On the other side of the culvert, Ben was able to get Cole to Graham, who pulled Cole into calmer water, where they could walk.
Ben continued to swim downstream about 30-40 feet, angling away from the current, until he was able to grab a tree and pull himself out of the water.
While this was going on, Jill and Andrew were able to pull Josh out of the water using the hose, and join the rest of their family on the other side of the bridge.
We rejoice with the Hooper family that they are all safe and sound, and praise God for His intervention.
For more information on the Boy Scout Honor Medal With Crossed Palms, and other Boy Scout heroism awards, please reference http://www.scouting.org/media/mediakit/awards.aspx.