POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Poinsett County first responders and a bystander are being called heroes after saving a man from nearly drowning.
On Sunday afternoon, 20-year-old Pierre Malik Brown, his girlfriend, Briana Howard, and mutual friends went swimming at the St. Francis River Floodway outside of Lepanto.
"We just went out there to have a good time and chill, and that's when everything went downhill from there," Brown, now recovering, said.
Lepanto Fire Chief David Simmons, who was one of the responders to the call, said Brown jumped off one side of the bridge, but the current in the river swept him in the other direction, sending him about a mile down the river.
"I thought I was going to jump in then touch the bottom and come back up," Brown said. "I was breathing but I was bobbing in and out of the water. Maybe after going about a mile down the river that's when I caught on to the branch."
Several rescue agencies out of Poinsett County responded to the incident. One bystander launched a canoe and first responders launched a boat into the river.
"I didn't get here until later, but they found him about 200 yards around this curve," Simmons said. "It carried him a mile away from here. They lost sight of him when he went around that curve."
"I was so exhausted, the whole time out there I was thinking, 'I'm going to die, I don't want to go like this,'" Brown said, while recalling the near drowning. "When I caught on to the branch, that's when I thought I was going to live. I just wanted it to hold me up until someone came and got me."
The bystanders and responders rescued Brown just seconds before he let go of the branch, saving his life.
On Monday, Brown recovered in St. Bernard's hospital in Jonesboro and is expected to make a full recovery, even after swallowing roughly three gallons of water in the river.
It is one scenario that shocked first responders.
"So many times we come to these things and have different outcomes," Lepanto Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Dirlam said." I feel blessed that I was able to be a part of yesterday. This time, we had a great outcome. We got to help a man get out of the water so he could continue on."
"You can pretty much just say God was looking over everyone yesterday," Simmons said.
The Poinsett County Sheriff's Office commended the quick response of every agency who responded and the team of dispatchers.
Simmons also said training paid off and the joint effort between the several agencies saved a life.
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