The boy, who was not identified, 12-year-old Bradley Okraszewski and two girls, ages 9 and 11, were wading in the creek when the swift current apparently swept them away.
While the 10-year-old boy and the two girls were rescued, Okraszewski died. The 12-year-old boy's body was found Wednesday morning. Kingston firefighter Floyd Young and volunteer firefighter Brian Lawson, who are best friends, were the first on the scene. p> They were off duty that night and were working on an old truck a few blocks away in Young's garage on East Walnut Street in Kingston when they heard on the police scanner that kids were having trouble at Toby Creek.
Young and Floyd are familiar with the creek, so they immediately got in their pick-up trucks and traveled to the area, where they found a 10-year-old boy in a 16-foot diameter water tube.
The tube, known as the Mercer Street Flood Tunnel, channels the creek underground through Kingston to the Woodward Pumping Station behind the former Ames Department Store in Edwardsville.
Young immediately went into the tube and held onto the boy, while Lawson held a rope on Young. "Everything happened so fast," Young said. "We knew the area, so we knew if someone was in trouble, we knew where to go."
Young said the boy "had a lot to do with saving his own life."
"The water was coming fast and somehow this kid got his shoulder in a crevice and he was holding on," Young said. "The water kept going over the kid's head and he kept disappearing. But I couldn't just watch the kid float away. You want to be able to live with yourself."
Young and Lawson immediately called for help and were assisted by firefighters Paul Klecha, Brian Bloom and Brian Krahel.
"I called Brian Krahel and said we need more rope here really fast," Young said. "It looked like he was going to get swept away. He then radioed Brian Bloom and said we needed rope in a hurry." When Bloom arrived, he threw rope and life jackets to Lawson, who held on to one side of the rope. Young grabbed the other side and went in after the boy.
"The water was really strong. When I got the kid, the rope didn't quite reach him. I held on with one hand and grabbed the kid's pants with my other hand," Young said. "All I was able to do was hold on to the kid. The water was so strong."
When Krahel arrived, he brought extra life jackets and extra ropes to get the boy out of the tube. "I was lowered down in there," Krahel said. "I attached the boy to me and Floyd was ahead of me on the same rope. Brian Lawson and Brian Bloom hauled us out while we were attached to the rope." Kingston Fire Chief Bob Cannon credited the firefighters for their heroic efforts.
"I just can't say enough about what they did to get that little boy out of the water. I'm really proud of them," Cannon concluded. "For as tragic as that incident was, with the death of that one young boy, it could have been twice as bad."
In all, more than 150 dive and rescue personnel participated in the extensive search at Toby Creek, which stretched over two days.