Crystal River FWS volunteer honored

From U.S. Fish†and Wildlife Service (FWS)

On July 4, the U.S. Department of the Interior held its 72nd Honor Awards Convocation, honoring employees, volunteers and citizens who have acted to protect the lives of others.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) volunteer Tim Durden, who volunteers at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, received the Citizen’s Award for Bravery “for unusual bravery in the face of danger while on property owned by or entrusted to the Department of the Interior,” according to the agency.

The FWS stated, that on Nov. 22, 2015, a 21-year old male swimmer began to swim up the Spring Run Canal, just outside Three Sisters Springs in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, and began to have problems swimming. He panicked and called for help. FWS volunteer Tim Durden arrived via kayak at the swimmer’s location as the distressed swimmer began to go under water.

When Mr. Durden got close, the panicked swimmer grabbed his kayak and tried to board it, in an attempt to stay above water. The water depth at the entrance of the Spring Run Canal is approximately eight feet. The water depth, coupled with the high outgoing tide, made for a significant current. According to the FWS, if the swimmer had tipped over Mr. Durdenís kayak, the swimmer and Mr. Durden both have been at risk of drowning. However, instead of panicking himself, Mr. Durden calmed the swimmer, instructed him to hold onto the rope on the rear of his kayak, and towed the swimmer safely back to his boat.

“Had Mr. Durden not gone above and beyond the call of duty in rescuing the distressed swimmer, at personal risk,” the press release stated, “the situation may have resulted in serious injury or a loss of life.”

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