Man almost dies trying to rescue kids who pretend to be drowning

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

RENTON, Wash. —

Fifty-seven-year-old Curtis Boatwright almost died last Saturday at Renton's Coulon Beach.

The man is disabled from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car more than a decade ago.

Despite a bad shoulder and hurt legs, he didn't hesitate to jump into the chilly waters of Lake Washington when he heard screams for help. Two boys and a girl were in the water shouting, "help, help, we're drowning."

As Boatwright swam toward a 10-year-old boy and struggled to stay afloat himself, the boy jumped on him. He said, "I found myself just underwater and I came up and I just got my nose and mouth to just break the water, and I caught about two seconds of air and that's all I remember, I was going down."

Corrina Wells was watching the drama unfold and started screaming for help. Eventually she jumped in to save Boatwright when no one else would, even though he was at least 100 pounds heavier. Someone tossed her a life ring, and Wells was able to pull Boatwright closer to shore. She said, "I thought he was dead, his eyes were rolled in the back of his head. His mouth was wide open. He wasn't breathing. He wasn't responding. I saw blood coming out of his mouth."

Paramedics were able to revive Boatwright. He spent a day at Harborview Medical Center, mostly in intensive car. Corrina Wells is angry. She said Boatwright risked his life for kids who pretended to be drowning. She watched them goof around in the water for 15 minutes before Boatwright arrived to go fishing. He wasn't aware that the kids were never really in trouble and that they were able to swim back to the dock themselves.

Renton firefighters confirm that the children were faking. A KIRO reporter asked Renton police if they interviewed the kids, and whether they will face any criminal penalties. A spokeswoman said a case report hasn't been processed yet, so she couldn't access the information.

Terry Vickers also said she couldn't talk to the police officer who went to the beach Saturday because he was off duty and not working.