A relaxing day of fishing for 16-year-old Louisiana high school sophomore Leyton Page ended with his frantic attempt to rescue five people, including three children, from the Pearl River.
The incident occurred Saturday at the base of a weir on the river, where a couple with three young children in a small boat fell into the churning water after their engine failed and the boat capsized.
It was only because Page had doubled back in his 12-foot outboard-powered boat to retrieve some fishing gear that he came across the life-and-death struggle. News crews interviewed the thoughtful young man about how he navigated those chaotic moments.
Despite Page’s best efforts, the man drowned and the woman remains missing and is assumed dead. But the three children survived, two of them – boys ages 6 and 8 -- pulled to safety by Page. Thirty minutes later, rescue crews found the 5-year-old girl alive under the boat. All were wearing life jackets.
"Leyton Page is the reason these kids survived," St. Tammany Fire District Chief Scott Brewer told news outlets.
A video report by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office sheds further light into the danger the weir poses, especially when the river is swollen after heavy rains and water pours over the weir into the 8-foot-deep canal.
Page went back to school as usual on Monday morning. The unassuming teenager had refused $1,500 that was raised to get him a new shotgun to replace the one he lost in the churning water. He insisted instead that the money be given to the surviving children, according to a report by The Times-Picayune.
Page said his experience will not keep him off the water. He plans to enter an upcoming bass tournament. If anything happens there, he is prepared.
"I reckon if someone else needs my help, then I will swing into action again," he said.