Hot and tired, Becki Salmon, 30, and her fiancé, Matt Werner, 33, posed on a huge rock by the Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. They had spent the June afternoon having their engagement photos taken. Near the end of the shoot, their photographer suddenly began pointing to the water behind them.
Salmon spun around and saw a little boy flailing in the water. “I could barely see his face. He was trying to pull himself back to the surface,” says Salmon. “His head was back, and he was reaching and grasping for something to hold on to.” Two other boys had been playing near the water, but they had run up the bank to a park bench before the third boy fell into the water.
Trained as a paramedic, Salmon didn’t think twice about rushing to the water, even though she didn’t know how deep it was. “I remember thinking, That’s not OK,” she says. She jumped into the murky creek and paddled toward the boy.
She grabbed him and dragged him 20 or so feet to land. By the time they reached the water’s edge, the boy, who looked about five years old, was unresponsive. Salmon threw him over her shoulder and gave him a few whacks on the back. Suddenly, he started coughing, spitting up water, and crying for his mother, who was up the bank talking to the two other boys when her son fell in.
“I was so relieved,” says Salmon.
She urged the boy’s mother to take him to a hospital. The mother declined, however, telling Salmon they were from out of town. And Salmon downplays the fact that she saved a child’s life. “My fiancé is an EMT, and our photographer is a paramedic,” she says. “This kid had a pretty good chance of survival.”