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Ohio 8th grader saves man from drowning while on family vacation

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Posted at 12:48 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 10:53:39-04

GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — Danny Tiller is a typical 13-year-old. The Ohio boy plays football and wrestles for the 8th-grade team at Berkshire Local Schools. But earlier this month, Tiller did something not so typical for a teenager—he saved a life.

“It was a fight or flight kind of thing,” said Tiller.

The Tiller family vacationed in Alabama over Labor Day weekend and went swimming at the Little River Canyon National Preserve.

“It’s a pretty wide river and the part where you jump off the rocks, it turns into a waterfall and it gets pretty deep,” he said.

Danny’s mom, Faith, watched as he and his family members jumped into the water and as a man jumped in shortly after them.

Danny and his family members successfully navigated the current and swam back to land, but Faith says she was confused to see Danny jump back into the river.

“I saw Danny jump back in and I was like, ‘Why is he jumping back in?’” she said.

But Danny jumped back in because he saw the man who had been on the cliff edge with him struggling against the river’s current.

“I saw him flail his arms and he asked for help, and I jumped in feet first,” Danny said. “I grabbed him under the shoulder and under his arm.”

It was a scary sight for his mom and dad to watch as they ran to help.

“I was watching from above and by the time Danny got to him, he was completely under the water,” said Faith.

Danny eventually got the unconscious man to the edge of the river where his brother and cousins helped get him up.

“I noticed he wasn’t breathing, so I just started doing chest compressions on him,” he said.

While the 13-year-old wasn’t formally trained, he said he knew some general training.

“I heard you’re supposed to do it to the ‘Staying Alive’ song,” he said. “My mother is a nurse and she kind of says things and I just kind of picked it up from other places.”

His efforts were successful, and the man regained consciousness.

“By the time I got there, he was just starting to breathe,” said Faith.

Danny said he hasn’t talked to the man since the event, but said he just wanted to help.

“I saw him struggling and there was no one around me, so he probably wouldn’t have made it if I wasn’t there. It was a fight or flight kind of thing,” he said.

He proved to be a heroic and humble 13-year-old.

“I am just very proud of him,” said Faith. “I know that he has greatness in his future.”

This story was originally published by Jessi Schultz at WEWS.