In life and death situations, the instinct to save those we love can grant us near superhuman powers. On the eve of this past Memorial Day weekend, thanks to a small but mighty hero who rose to meet such a challenge, a father and little girl are alive to tell the tale.
Chase Poust is only 7. He, his dad Steven, and his 4-year-old sister, Abigail were out for a family boating excursion on Florida’s St. Johns River near Mandarin Point. Chase and Abigail were swimming at the stern of the anchored boat while Steven was on deck fishing.
It was an idyllic outing—until a strong current loosened Abigail’s grip and she let go of the boat. Instantly realizing his sister would be swept away, Chase let go of the boat as well to try and reach her.
Steven leaped into the water but after realizing he couldn’t keep up with both kids, he was faced with an agonizing decision. “I told them I loved them because I wasn’t sure what’s going to happen,” Steven told News-4 JAX. “I tried to stick with both of them. I wore myself out. She drifted away from me.”
Directing Chase to swim to shore for help, Steven stayed behind, keeping as close as he could to Abigail as the life-vest that was keeping her above the waves floated further and further from his reach.
It was a tough go for the 7-year-old, but rather than attempting to swim all out, Chase wisely paced himself. Stopping to float or dog paddle when he tired, he’d rest and then set off again.
“The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore so it was very hard to swim that way,” Chase told JAX.
It took Chase an hour to reach the shore. Once on solid ground, he ran to the nearest house and called for help.
Members of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were dispatched to search for Steven and Abigail.
Miraculously, the two were found and rescued about an hour later—more than a mile away from the family’s abandoned boat.
Steven Poust couldn’t be prouder of his son, or more grateful. Thanks to the determination of a pint-sized superhero, this is likely to be one Memorial Day the Poust family will never forget.