Hometown Heroes perform water rescue

A couple high school students helped prevent a drowning at Beech Fork.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:51 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Two high school students are being praised for their heroics after it appeared someone was in danger of drowning.

Vanessa Samples was hanging out at the beach area of Beech Fork Lake Sunday with her family and her boyfriend, Owen Turner, when a teen who couldn’t swim fell off his float.

“He was splashing a lot and going under,” Samples said.

No lifeguards were on duty in the area, but fortunately, Samples trained and became a lifeguard at the YMCA Kennedy Center pool earlier this summer.

Also this summer, Turner went through water survival training through his JROTC program.

Samples and Turner, both about to start their junior years at Huntington High, swam out to try to help.

“I’m reaching for his arms, and he’s holding onto me,” Samples said.

“We tried to hold him up as much as possible,” Turner said. “It was really deep.”

Samples says the young man she was helping was about twice her size and appeared to be 16 to 19 years old.

“My heart was racing so fast my chest was hurting,” she said.

Turner says he then swam toward the float the teen had fallen off, but it kept drifting farther away.

Samples yelled for someone to bring another float.

“Someone finally did,” she said. “We got his head and arms through that. Then more people came up and dragged him to the sand. While he was in the water, he started throwing up the water because he’d swallowed so much. Once we got him to the beach, he was fine. He was responsive and breathing fine.”

“I’m just glad he’s safe,” Turner said.

Samples says an EMS crew responded to the scene, but the teen who was rescued was able to leave the lake with his mother.

Samples says the mother later messaged her on social media thanking them.

“She told us Owen and I were like her guardian angels,” Samples said. “She said we were her heroes, and she was so thankful for us.”

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