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The City Journals

‘We need to jump in, everybody’ - Scout troop receives Life Saver Award

Jan 29, 2019 04:09PM ● By Travis Barton

Boy Scout Troop 656 poses for a photo with city officials after being presented with a Life Saver Award for stepping in to save a teenage boy from drowning. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

It was mid-October at Cove Pond when a teenage boy slowly slipped underwater. 

“He was under for about 20 seconds, and we realized he’s not coming up,” said Phil Stooksbury, a Scoutmaster with troop 656.  

The Scout troop was finishing up its fishing activity when the members noticed the boy floundering in the water. Another leader, Scott Gordon, along with the Scouts, were calling the boy, urging him back to the shore when he submerged himself. 

That’s when Stooksbury jumped in. 

Shooting his arms out, he went under looking through the dark waters. Stooksbury finally saw an arm, grabbed it and pulled toward the shore. Mud pulled at his feet, enhancing the difficulty. But he was able to get the teenager ashore. 

Putting the boy on his side, scout leaders hit him in the back, where he was “just vomiting out all this water and junk,” Stooksbury said. 

But the boy was alive. 

That night “went from a fishing merit badge to a lifesaving merit badge,” Stooksbury said. 

Because of their efforts, Scout troop 656 was presented with a Life Savers Award from Herriman Police Department Chief Troy Carr during the Jan. 9 city council meeting. 

“Actions taken that day by these courageous young men of troop 656 and their leaders without a doubt saved that young man’s life and prevented a great tragedy,” Carr said during the meeting. “We commend them for their quick actions and selfless response to a dangerous and dynamic situation.” 

Stooksbury said they were surprised to receive recognition.  

“We weren't expecting anything,” Stooksbury said. “We're just happy that we were prepared and able to help.” 

Stooksbury, the chief financial officer at Graystone Mortgage, said it’s unfortunate many young kids are going through tough times both emotionally and mentally, especially in a city still licking the wounds from its tragedies over the past 18 months.

“We can’t be afraid to…,” he said pausing, looking for the right words. “We need to jump in, everybody. Those who are going through emotional trials or mental health or anything of that sort. We got to jump into those dark pools and try and save those friends out there and pull them back to the shore.”

Carr received an email the day after the incident from Brad Bailey, the officer first on the scene the night. Carr said Bailey told him this was about to be another tragic teenage incident in the Herriman community. But these residents leapt into action. 

“And not only citizens, it’s our Boy Scout group,” Carr said. “One of the groups we train as youngsters to take action, to be prepared and be on the lookout. And they go, at their own personal risk, and pull this young man out; they literally saved his life.”

It was the first Life Saver Award given out by HPD, but it won’t be the last. 

“From my perspective, it appropriately rewards those that risk some amount of their life or limb to go out and help somebody else that needs it,” Carr said. “That's what we should be doing anyways, helping out.”

This event happened mere weeks after the police department officially began. Carr said as his leadership team were putting policies together, they felt publicly recognizing good Samaritans was a good idea. 

“So, as we're doing our policies, we say let’s do citizens awards where we can come in here and recognize these people in Herriman, or citizens of anywhere that are in our city doing courageous, outstanding feats—things that change our community for the better and so we did,” Carr said.

After the Scout troop was presented with their award, Councilwoman Nicole Martin said she is continually impressed by what the police department is doing—from increased presence in the community, to initiating new programs to recognizing selfless acts by residents. 

“Seeing your improved presence in the community, not only makes you feel safer but really brings our community together,” she said. 

 “I just echo the gratitude that we offer to anyone that’s willing to take time to watch out for somebody else,” said Mayor David Watts. “And it sounds like you were prepared like you were supposed to be.”