MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) — Murray Fire is calling Harlan Wheeler a hero Friday after he jumped in to save a 5-year-old boy floating down a Little Cottonwood Creek in Murray Park.
The boy, first responders believe, was in the water two to four minutes and may have suffered minor hypothermia.
The boy’s mother says they were at the Murray Park playground near the swimming pools. She told Murray first responders she had her eye on her boy one minute and in a second he was gone.
A quarter mile down Little Cottonwood Creek was Harlen Wheeler, who spotted the boy floating his way.
He said one thing went through his mind.
“I’m getting this kid out,” he told ABC4 News. “That’s all – I didn’t care that it was cold.”
Officials say Wheeler saved the boy and handed him to the first arriving officer. The boy was taken to an area hospital to be treated.
But, not all outcomes end this way on our creeks and rivers.
“Know that they are deceptively strong. It doesn’t take much water to sweep away a person, especially a pet or a child,” said Matthew McFarland with Unified Fire Authority.
Search and Rescue Crews across the Wasatch Front are getting ready for what could be a busy June.
“We expect the water level to get higher, velocity to get faster, there is going to be way more volume as it warms up here,” said McFarland. “The recommendation is that we stay away from that fast-moving water. Especially if you have kids or pets.”
First responders across the state say it’s important for witnesses to keep an eye on victims who go into the water and hopefully not jump in themselves.
McFarland added, “That is a huge judgment call and our general recommendation is that someone stays along the banks of that water, try to keep eyes on the victim and make sure the 911 system has been put into place so we can get there.”
First responders across the valley say, play it smart and keep loved ones away from the strong rushing waters until they calm down.