ELKHART — Those who helped rescue a teenager from Christiana Creek are heralding as a hero an unknown bystander who leaped into the water to save the boy.
Witnesses said the man ran to the scene immediately when he learned 15-year-old Nathan Banks was floundering about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the creek near High Dive Park west of Kroger.
Screams for help drew the stranger to the scene, neighbor Roi Voyce said.
“I think this guy deserves a lot of credit because he did not hesitate,” said Voyce, who initially tried to reach Nathan until he began to fear for his own life. “He jumped right on in with all his clothes on – still had his cellphone in his pocket.”
Unable to swim to the boy in the swirling water, the man instructed Voyce and Nathan’s brother, 9-year-old Averie, to lock arms and form a human chain. By the time city police and firefighters arrived, Nathan was safely on shore.
“He’s all right now, thank God,” said Gail Banks, Nathan’s grandmother. “If it weren’t for that gentleman who stopped to help, he wouldn’t be. We’re very grateful.”
Voyce said he and the boy were out for a walk when Nathan suddenly decided he was going for a swim. Both his neighbor and grandmother said Nathan is a strong swimmer but was overcome by the current, which had been fed by weeks of rain.
Police later told the boy it was illegal and dangerous to swim in this area, not far from where the creek flows into the St. Joseph River, even in the best conditions.
“He’s definitely a hero,” Gail Banks said about the man. “It just goes to show you there are still good people in this world.”
Medics with the Elkhart Fire Department provided a medical evaluation on the boy, who did not require transportation to the hospital, according to city officials.