BONNERS FERRY — As the Fourth of July celebration neared the climax and the skies darkened into evening, a scenario unfolded that would result in two young men becoming heroes, and a young life being saved.
People were scattered across the soccer field at the Boundary County Fairgrounds, lounging in chairs or on blankets spread across the grass. Children played with glowing toys and eagerly awaited the fireworks to begin.
Across the loudspeaker came a worried voice. A 9-year-old autistic child had gone missing.
“We are not going to start the fireworks until this child is found,” said the voice.
A detailed description was conveyed to the crowd and many people immediately went into action, asking questions, calling the child’s name and looking all around their area.
Brothers, 11-year-old Brennan Johnson and 14-year-old William Johnson were near the Kootenai River when they spotted a child getting into the water. Realizing that might be the missing child, they did not hesitate and took action immediately. They ran down to the river as the child was swimming away and jumped in after him.
According to Brennan Johnson, they got a hold of him, then the child pulled away. They were then able to get him back again and bring him to shore. William Johnson held him, while Brennan Johnson went for help.
Help was just at the top of the bank. Alyssa Pinkerton had gone to help look for the boy as well, and came upon the scene. She called 911 dispatch and helped the young men bring the boy back to safety.
“It was totally a miracle. I am so grateful that he was OK,” Pinkerton said. “I am just really, really proud of those boys. They just followed their instincts. One was on his way for help, while the other was staying with him when I got to the top. It was perfect timing.”
Although the fireworks commenced, the story for the young heroes did not end there. Hearing about what had happened, Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer wanted to recognize the actions taken by the young men.
“I think that it is so important, as a community, that we recognize any of our youth when they do things that are right,” said Kramer.
On Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m., Kramer, along with Search and Diver Rescue Commander Tony Jeppesen, Boundary County Sheriff’s Marine Deputy Caleb Watts and Fourth of July Organizer Gary Leonard, came together to present certificates to the brothers and Pinkerton.
“You saved a kid’s life,” Leonard said, shaking the brothers’ hands.
“You guys saved his life, and we would probably be having a very bad day today, looking for him if you hadn’t been there and taken action,” Jeppesen said. “I really appreciate that and we look at you guys as honorary Search and Rescue.”
The young men were also surprised with a ride in the sheriff’s jet boat and given a very special challenge coin.
“It feels good. It is the biggest step in life,” said Brennan Johnson, holding his coin. “Getting this… it feels really nice.”
Both young men talked about how it felt good to be a part of saving someone’s life.
“I am extremely proud of them,” said their mother, Priscilla Johnson. “They were at the right place at the right time, and I feel that they were sent down there for a purpose.”