LEADWOOD, MO. (KPLR) - A rain swollen river nearly took the life of a 12 year old boy, Sunday night.
A fisherman found him floating down the Big River in Leadwood, MO., about 65 miles south of St. Louis.
The boy, Lucas Schultz of Smithton, IL, wasn't breathing; his eyes wide open; his skin blue.
It was about 6:00.
Normally you can see a bridge crossing above the water line at the Leadwood Access.
With recent flooding, the bridge disappears into the river, with water roaring over the top, right where Schultz got sucked under.
Robert Salsberry nearly broke down during a phone call with Schultz as Salsberry stood near the scene, Monday night.
Both Salsberry and Lucas`s dad, Dan Schultz, feared Lucas had died.
He was swimming in the water, only about waist high, police said. But that water was rushing
over the bridge and Lucas was being sucked into a drain pipe, hidden from view under the high water.
Salsberry, who was fishing nearby with his own son, saw Lucas`s father in a panic.
'I saw the father running. I just knew .. I knew at that point .. I knew what happened,' he said, choking up. 'I grabbed ahold of his arm. We were both pulling, we were both pulling, and we couldn`t pull him back...I saw his shoe pop up. His shoe floated down the river. I just started praying, Lord, please push him through. Push him through!'
After about 2 minutes - he was flushed out the other side. Salsberry chased down the lifeless boy in the water, pulled him to a small island and began CPR with Lucas`s dad.
'He blinked and he raised up his arm. I knew he was with us. I knew he was back with us,' Salsberry said.
He said God had put His hand on the boy - and put Salsberry in the place to save him.
'Without him here, I don`t know what we`d be doing today. It may have been a completely different outcome without Mr. Salsberry here,' said Leadwood police officer, Eric Smith, who responded to the scene.
'He was there at the right time. Like he said, God put him there for a reason. He was my son`s savior. He saved him that day,' said Dan Schultz.
He also thanked Salsberry`s wife, who called 911.
Dan Schultz also thanked the police and fire departments for such a quick response.
Lucas had a special thank you for Salsberry.
'Thank you for saving my life. It was good that you were there. I was really scared,' he said.
Officer Smith helped carry Lucas out of the water and into his patrol car to warm up.
He was airlifted to St. Louis Children`s Hospital; treated overnight and released Monday afternoon.
He was pretty banged up with bruises and stitches for a large gash on his backside, but otherwise OK.
He said he had no memory of being in the pipe.