SMITH, Ky. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander recognized a park ranger at Martins Fork Lake today with a Star of Life Award for his heroic rescue of a drowning teenager Labor Day weekend.
Lt. Col. John Hudson, Nashville District commander, presented Park Ranger Brent Sewell the award at a ceremony for his courage and bravery to save the life of Aaron Ledford, 18, from Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 1, 2013.
“It is rangers like Sewell that do the right thing when duty calls,” said Hudson. “We have a fantastic group of park rangers in the Nashville District and they all do a superb job day in and day out by educating the public about water safety and sometimes saving a life,” said Hudson
Ledford attended a family reunion at the beach and while playing in the water followed a beach ball into the deeper end of the swimming area. He realized he was in trouble when he released the swimming area’s boundary line as he pulled himself out hand-over-hand. Sewell, a trained life guard, after being flagged down by a woman immediately pulled his truck near the beach and went into rescue mode.
Explaining how he performed the rescue Sewell said he did what I was trained to do and was very fortunately the situation did not turn out to be worst than it was.
“Everything happened so fast and there was no time to ask questions or think about what not to do so I reacted to my training,” said Sewell.
Sewell said the victim was located about five feet from the swim line in 12 feet of water and about 40 meters from shore.
Jessica, his wife is also a trained life guard and was driving nearby, saw her husband run into the water fully clothed and ran to Sewell’s truck and retrieved his police radio, first aid gear for CPR, life jacket and throw bag.
“He is very deserving of the award, and I’m very proud of both Brent and Jessica for their quick actions and saving this young man’s life,” said Dave Robinson, resource manager for both Martins Fork and Laurel Lakes.
Robinson said it shows the level of training, initiative and dedication to get out and serve the public.
“Brent is a trained life guard, eagle scout and park ranger. This combination of training helped prevent another tragedy and we’re proud of him,” said Robinson.
Robinson said without the quick response from the Sewells that this accident may have been very tragic.
"We talk about water safety all the time, but sometimes people are not always as safe as we would like and it can lead to tragedy.” said Sewell. “Wearing a life jacket even while swimming, can prevent that.”
The Star of Life Award is presented to Corps employees or volunteers who take action that prevent a member of the visiting public from being severely injured or becoming a fatality.