After putting his life in danger to stop four people from drowning in the Mississippian Pascagoula River, a teenager is being praised for his bravery. One of the victims stated the boy saved her life just as she was about to “breathe her last.”
Corion Evans, a 16-year-old Black boy, received praise from Moss Point Police Chief Brandon Ashley for jumping into a river on July 3 to save the lives of strangers. Around 2:30 in the morning, the Pascagoula High student saw a car with three teenage girls inside drive off an I-10 boat launch and into the water.
The driver of that vehicle said she was following her GPS and was unaware that she was driving into the water, according to an MPPD report.
Evans became concerned when the car floated about 20 feet from the shore of the river and started to sink.
He said, “They drove straight under the water,” in an interview with WLOX. Only a little portion of the car was visible above the water.”
He removed his shoes and shirt, put down his phone, and dove into the river after realizing that the people were in danger. According to some scientists, this river is “the last major river system in the lower forty-eight states and southern Canada unaltered by dams, channelization, levees, or similar human impact.”
Evans, who says he has been swimming since he was three years old, said, “I was just like, ‘I can’t let none of these folks die. They need to get out the water’. So, I just started getting them. I wasn’t even thinking about nothing else.”
The boy said, “I was swimming with them and attempting to keep them above water at the same time.”
The three teenage girls who would have drowned in the water were saved by Evans and his companion Karon “KJ” Bradley, who dove in after Evans and helped the girls climb to the roof of the car.
Moss Point police officer Gary Mercer responded to a cry for assistance and swam out to help the two heroes after the two teen males had finished helping the girls. However, according to Evans, the water overpowered him.
One police report indicated that as Officer Mercer was attempting to get one girl to shore, she “began panicking and forced him to fall under, swallowing some water.”
“I turned around. I see the police officer,” Evans recalled. “He’s drowning. He’s going underwater, drowning, saying, ‘Help!” So, I went over there. I went and I grabbed the police officer and I’m like swimming him back until I feel myself, I can walk.”
“The police department and I admire Mr. Evans’s bravery and selflessness he demonstrated by risking his own safety to save individuals in danger,” said Chief Ashley in a statement. If Mr. Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically instead of all occupants rescued safely.”
“I believe that if he did not decide to risk his own safety it may have developed into (an)… unspeakable catastrophe,” Ashley said in a second interview. “But we are all grateful for Mr. Evans’ selflessness and bravery he displayed by helping rescue the people stranded in the river.”
The three girls and the police officer were all brought to the hospital after arriving safely on land, where they are currently recovering from the nearly tragic incident.
The young swimmer said that the teenagers were throwing up on the shore because a lot of water had gotten inside of them all.
Evans said, “Twenty-five yards out, so it was a lot of swimming. My legs were so tired after. Anything could’ve been in that water, though. But I wasn’t thinking about it.”
One of the three girls, Cora Watson, praised Evans on social media, stating that he “saved my life seconds before my final breath.”
On Tuesday, July 5, Evans received a certificate of commendation for his good actions from the city’s mayor, Billy Knight, and the board of aldermen.
Marquita Evans, the boy’s mother, praised him for his good deeds as well. She said, “I was very pleased of Corion because he wasn’t just thinking about himself. He made a sincere effort to save everyone from the water. I’m relieved that he did not suffer any harm while attempting to help others.”
Ashley DeFlanders, who was moved by the story, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Evans’ college expenses.
The campaign states that “over the Fourth of July weekend, his courageous acts saved four lives.” Let’s help this high school graduate get to college in August 2023 as a reward for his bravery and selflessness!”
Support is flooding in to assist the good Samaritan improve his life after saving the lives of others.
Of the $25,000 target, the campaign has already raised $7,570 in one day.