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Off-duty fire chief saves teen from Schroon River

Updated: 07/04/2014 7:10 PM
Created: 07/04/2014 6:33 PM WNYT.com
By: Nicole Hart

CHESTERTOWN-- After a scary incident on the water, two families are thankful for the training and quick actions of a local first responder. 

It's a phone call every parent dreads. "Mom we had an accident in the river. I'm okay, but Joey had to go to the hospital" April Speed of East Greenbush recalls. Her son, 15-year-old Logan Speed and his friend, 14-year-old Joey Hurd, were tubing down Schroon River Thursday when the current proved to be too much. April says she was trying to wrap her head around what her son was explaining to her on the phone. "We were tubing down and Joey got stuck on a tree and his tube."

Luckily for the boys, help was headed their way. Logan stood on the side of the road and waited. "I said well, what did you do on the road? He goes, I stopped a truck with lights on it."

Chief James Hayes of the Horicon Volunteer Fire Department says he was simply in the right place at the right time Thursday afternoon. "I was on my way up Schroon River Road. I saw a tube on the side of the road so I slowed down a bit. I was suspicious. I didn't see anyone, but as I went by I saw a kid down by the river, hollering and waving" Hayes said. That's when he jumped into action. "I didn't think he could hang on much longer. I knew I needed to get out there to him." 

Hayes called for backup and into the river he went. Within minutes, Hayes had Joey on solid ground.

April recalls her reaction as she listened to her son explain what happened, "I'm thinking... what if he didn't find a fire chief? What if he found someone who couldn't help them? What could have happened?"

NewsChannel 13's Nicole Hart asked Hayes how he felt about saving Joey's life. He said, "It made me feel good. I mean, I'm glad I was at the right place at the right time and had the right stuff with me."

A nightmare with a happy ending that will stay with them forever. "This is something they'll share for the rest of their lives" April said smiling.

The boys are both doing well. They're a bit shaken up and Joey has some bumps and bruises, but they'll both be okay. They spent the day relaxing at camp. Both families are planning to meet up with Chief Hayes this week so they can thank him in person.

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