What started out as a routine Spring Creek Greenway Ambassador training day ended up being quite the experience for everyone in the class, including me.
As Peter and I were leading the trail maintenance training class, we happened to be situated at one side of the approach to Lori’s Boardwalk, discussing the history behind the construction of such bridges. We stood on the edges of the trail as hikers and bikers would make their way through. We all had on our facemasks, carrying our tools, water, daypacks, and other necessities for the day, as we stood listening to stories and watched the trail being used.
It was at that point when a family approached from the other end of the bridge, 2 female adults walking and children on bikes, including a young boy riding a bike with training wheels. I was surprised to see the younger ones riding in that area because the terrain is sandy and slightly difficult to navigate. Well, one could see that the young boy maybe became too excited as he began riding over the bridge, which was smoother, he then picked up speed. He was not able to control his bike and he veered toward the side of the bridge, at the middle of the span.
I, along with others, were noticing everyone as they approached the area, so we all had our eyes on the young boy as he hit the bridge curb without slowing down. My initial thinking was that he would bounce back from the curb and all would be good, but that did not happen. The boy, along with his bike, immediately flipped over the curb into the water below. From my angle, I could not see him hit the water, but the very loud splash pushed us all into action.
I ran from my vantage point, dropping my lopper tool, but not taking the time to remove anything else (mask, daypack and gloves remained on) as I made my way down the bank towards the water where the boy would be. From my peripheral I know there were others running as well, but I just happened to be the one to get there first. As I jumped into the water, I was startled to find that the creek was deeper than I had anticipated. I could hear everyone’s voices above me as I advanced to the struggling boy who was near the surface of the water. By far, the most intense moment was when he was trying to stay afloat but his head would go under water. I got a hold of him as fast as I could so that his head would be above the water and letting him know that I had him and that he was gonna be ok. As I brought him over to the steep bank, all I could see were arms extending in our direction to get us out of the water. Everyone was trying to help. The team pulled up the young boy and returned him to his family. (While I was still in the water, trying to find and retrieve his bike, I must admit I looked across the water wondering if a snake was anywhere in the area . . . I don’t like snakes). Anyway, I believe it was fellow Ambassador Jay and one of the female Ambassadors-in-training who were able to pick me up out of the water onto the bridge, which was quite an accomplishment because I was saturated in water. They had to have their adrenaline flowing to do that.
I noticed that our team was comforting the boy and his family (I believe I heard that he was with his grandmother). All involved were shook up as we realized what had just transpired. Fortunately everyone was safe. I cannot say what would have happened if no one had the ability to jump in, but he was fortunate that there were so many who wanted to help as much as possible. It was truly quite an effort by the entire group to bring the boy back to his family. We were all happy to see them proceed along the trail after a few minutes.
We are all out there to help, one way or another.
A soaked Roy Cuellar moments after jumping in Spring Creek to rescue a young boy who had fallen in.
Roy Cuellar is a Spring Creek Greenway Ambassador graduate and instructor for the trail maintenance class. He also serves as a member of Bayou Land Conservancy's Trail Crew and Stewards a one-mile segment of the trail.
For information about the Spring Creek Greenway Ambassador Program and the next training class, click here.