STORIES OF COURAGE & BRAVERY IN ALASKA'S RUGGED COPPER RIVER VALLEY

Kids Who Rescue: Copper Valley Children Who Stepped Up To Help Their Neighbors

The Copper River Chronicles: Alaska Wilderness Rescue

Even Copper River Kids Felt Responsible For Rescuing Others

  Northcountry Communications. All Rights Reserved.

Historically, rivers and lakes are extremely dangerous in the Copper River Valley. Grown men have died crossing creeks. Part of the problem is the extremely cold water, which knocks the breath out of you and causes you to inhale reflexively -- pulling the water into your lungs. During the great Alaska Gold Rush, creeks were a hazard, both winter and summer. One of the following stories involves dealing with water. 

Creeks are dangerous. This is Brushkana Creek, on the Denali Highway. (Photo, BLM)








Four Year Old Rescued By Older Child Who Waded Into Water 

In 1990,  a nine and a half year old boy, T.J. Huddleston, saved the life of 4-year old Caleb Mailly after Caleb wandered over to watch some older children, and fell into Tolsona Creek at a picnic.
 
The incident occurred at a picnic that Mendeltna Chapel congregation members held at Tolsona Creek. T.J., who learned to swim in Valdez, told the Journal he waded into the water and grabbed Caleb. "He fell in pretty deep," said T.J. "He was crying when he got out."




Young Boys Scrambled To Help Put Out A Lawnmower Fire

By 1995, Copper Valley schoolchildren were being trained in genuine rescue techniques in the Copper River Native Association's Summer Safety Program, taught with Rocky Ansell, who was the local Fire Chief. In a place like the Copper Valley, where the population is small but the possible dangers are big, everybody has to be able to literally step up to the plate and help others -- no matter how young they are.

Chris Wright of Glennallen noted one day how the training paid off, in his own neighborhood.

"About 4 hours ago, Barry Gross and I were sitting on his front porch when Kathy Adler yelled for assistance -- her lawnmower was on fire. The fire had burned into the gas line and the machine was engulfed  amidst the trees in the front of her property. Barry and I ran over to pull it out of the woods, but had no way to put the fire out before an explosion. The real heroes were Christopher Leeper and B.J. Delaney -- maybe ages 9 and 8. They, unrequested, ran to the Leeper house, and returned with a fire extinguisher, which Barry used to put out the fire."

The boys credited their quick thinking to a class they had just attended … only the day before, at the Summer Swim Program, where they learned fire safety responsiveness. But the real reason they could do what they did is they were Copper River kids. They realized, in spite of their young ages, that they were expected to behave responsibly and to act when action was needed. If they didn't help, then who would?


© 2015, Copper River Country Journal,  Linda Weld, Editor
All rights reserved, including photographs and maps.


 

 

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