Four girls nearly drown at Riverwalk Saturday, saved by a stranger

COLUMBIA (WOLO): The weather is heating up and for many of us that means heading out on the water. 

But what was supposed to be a fun day out on the river this weekend, turned into a scary situation for four young girls and their mothers. 

“I felt like I was gonna die because I’ve never been put in a situation like this.”

7 year old Avery is just learning how to swim. But a Saturday trip to the Riverwalk in West Columbia wasn’t supposed to put her skills to the test. She, along with her 11-year-old sister Ariel, 10-year-old cousin Sophia, and another friend started walking in shallow waters. 

“About 2:30 I got a phone call from my oldest daughter, very upset and hysterical. I got her to tell me everybody was okay, but then her next breath she told me they almost lost their little sister,” said Ariel and Avery’s mother, Amber Melbourne. 

Ariel says she swam only with her feet, as she held her sister and friend up, while trying to keep her own head above water. 

“and for a good minute I thought I wasn’t going to attend school on Monday,” feared Ariel. 

Sophia grabbed onto a nearby branch. 

“A little wave had went over my head and I had went under for a few seconds,” Sophia said. 

That’s when a stranger, who wished to stay anonymous, jumped in to help. The girls’ mother is saying thank you. 

“He saved my kids, so I’m very thankful. I’m grateful that he jumped into action like he did and didn’t second guess anything. He saved four kids, not just one kid.” 

She hopes by sharing this story, other parents will be more cautious this summer. 

“Just like my friend, she was not aware of how deep the water can get. Parents should know how unpredictable and how heavy and strong the current is.”

Columbia Fire rescue crews train for these incidents and advise everyone to have a plan out on the water, know where you are in case of an emergency, and always wear a life vest.

Categories: Local News