Boy saved from drowning at Point A Lake

Published 9:44 pm Monday, May 11, 2009

Thanks to the quick response of a Brewton man, three people — including a 6-year-old boy — narrowly avoided drowning in Pt. A Lake Saturday, Chief Deputy David Anderson of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office said.

Anderson said a call came in shortly after 10 a.m. of someone in the water calling for help, and when deputies arrived, they found a 6-year-old — pale and vomiting water — and his dad on board a boat headed to the swimming area beach.

How the two — and another would-be rescuer — came to shore is an interesting story.

Scott McDonald of Brewton, his son and stepfather were staying for the weekend at the camping area. The group set out shortly after 10 a.m. for a day of fishing and arrived at the lake just in time to see the boy jump out of the boat and into the water.

“I couldn’t tell he was a little boy, but I saw him jump,” McDonald said. “I thought it was strange him jumping off like that and them fishing. We continued on to the boat ramp and that’s when we heard the call for help.”

Eyewitness reports say the father, identified as Michael Keith Ramsey, jumped in the water after his son, Chase. Neither was wearing personal flotation devices, and the elder Ramsey suffered from a fused hip, making it difficult to swim. An unidentified swimmer from the shore tried to rescue the two but quickly became tired because of the distance from the shore.

McDonald said he and his family launched the boat as quickly as possible and saw deputies from the shore pointing to a figure in the water.

“We could see one guy they thought was in trouble and they were pointing over to another guy,” he said. “The boy was underwater, so we didn’t see him at first. That guy that tried to rescue the boy was so tired he couldn’t lift him up into the boat.”

McDonald jumped into the water and assisted the three to safety.

“When we got the boy into the boat, he wasn’t breathing, and he was purple,” he said. “We did what we could to get the water out of him, and by the time we made it to the shore, he had come to and was talking.”

The two men were taken by ambulance to Andalusia Regional Hospital. The boy was life flighted to Montgomery’s Baptist Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

The incident is being investigated by the Alabama Marine Police, and it is unknown if the father will receive any citations after the incident for lack of life jackets.

“You always wonder what you’d do in that situation,” McDonald said. “You see a child out there, I got one. My little boy said he didn’t want me to jump in, but you see a child — you just don’t have a choice. It’s what you have to do.”

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said situations such as this serve as a reminder to obey all boating laws.

“Thanks to Mr. McDonald, a potential tragedy was avoided,” Meeks said. “As the weather heats up, there is going to be more and more people on our waterways. Please operate your boat as you would a motor vehicle — no alcohol and use your personal safety devices. We want everyone to have a safe and happy summer.”