ST. CHARLES, MO (KPLR) - An off-duty firefighter is credited with preventing a tragedy in New Town St. Charles on Memorial Day.
It happened as Ribfest was winding down.
A woman shouted -- 'they're drowning'.
Most people thought the two brothers were clowning around in one of the New Town lakes.
At first, off-duty Orchard Farm Firefighter, Jayson Schroer, thought so, too.
When he heard those words, he just felt like he couldn't chance it.
The sizzle of Ribfest was winding down. People had had their fill. Vendors were more focused on cleaning up than cooking.
“The lady goes, ‘they’re drowning’. That’s when I jumped in,” Schroer said.
His own kids were among a small group wading into one of the lake.
Swimming is allowed with adult supervision recommended. The water is generally shallow.
Still, something didn’t seem right to Schroer when one of the boys went under.
“You’ve seen how murky that water is. There’s no way I would have been able to look down there (under the water) and find him,” Schroer said.
He “searched” for them using his arms and legs under the water.
“I hooked the arm of the one brother. The other one I caught with my leg and I’m sitting in the water … trying to grab him. I finally grabbed his arm. I pulled him up with my leg and my arm,” he said.
Schroer is still recovering from a bad car accident that left him with several broken ribs. He says he took quite a blow to those ribs from the second boy’s flailing arms, but he kept at it and caught a break.
“I found a little boulder that I was able to push off of (with my foot) and kind of push him away from me towards the shore where the rock ledge picks up. That’s when my head popped up. I was able to get a shoulder around him and swim to the shore with him,” Schroer said.
The boys’s parents were among the Ribfest vendors cleaning up.
Their father, Antonio Ellis, of Five Aces Barbecue in South St. Louis told FOX 2 Schroer saved his son’s lives.
Ellis a veteran.
He called Schroer ‘A Man of Valor’.