Most people may panic or feel overwhelmed in life-threatening situations. However, 7-year-old Chase Proust’s desire to protect his family took over, setting off an amazing journey filled with bravery and tenacity.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Proust family had gone out for a leisurely boat ride on Jacksonville, Florida’s St. Johns River.
Chase’s father, Steven Proust, was fishing while the boat was anchored, and the kids were having fun in the water and taking in the peaceful surroundings.
But their quiet day took an unexpected and terrifying turn that they will never forget.
The tranquility was shattered when Abigail, Chase’s sister, was unexpectedly caught in a strong current.==
“The current was so strong that my sister — she usually hangs out at the back of the boat — and she let go. So, I let go of the boat and grabbed her, and then, I was stuck.”
Witnessing his children in distress, Steven immediately dived into the water, hoping to rescue them.
But the powerful current proved too much, and all three were pulled away from the boat. Making matters even more dire, only Abigail was wearing a life jacket. Steven described the terrifying event, saying, “I told them both I loved them because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen.” I made an effort to be with her as long as possible. She moved away from me as I tired of being around her.
Chase made a bold choice in the middle of the mayhem: he would swim back to shore to seek assistance.
That must have been terrifying for a child, because all of their lives were at jeopardy.
The trip was exhausting.
Chase swam for an hour, conserving his energy by floating and dog paddling in tandem.
When he eventually made landfall, his perseverance paid off as he quickly went to the closest house for assistance.
When asked about his remarkable swimming prowess,Thankfully, an hour after Chase’s brave swim, both Steven and Abigail were located and rescued from the water.
The community’s collective efforts, including the Sheriff’s Department, Fire and Rescue Department, and the Fish and Wildlife Department, played a crucial role in ensuring the family’s safety.
Chase’s remarkable act of bravery has touched the hearts of many. People from all walks of life have showered him with praise, with comments like “Heroes come in small packages! He is so brave!” and reminders about the importance of teaching children to swim and always wearing flotation devices.
Reflecting on the ordeal, Steven couldn’t help but express his deep gratitude for his son’s actions.
“Little man … made it to shore and got help, and that’s what saved our lives.”
He also stated: “We’re here. By the grace of God, we’re here.”
Press play on the video below to hear the little hero talk about what happened that scary day!