Albany drowning victim hailed as hero - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany drowning victim hailed as hero

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

August 4, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Rescuers recovered the body Monday of a man who drowned in the Flint River trying to save a child.

23-year old D-J Vinson's body was found mid-morning just yards from the spot where he jumped in Sunday to save an 11-year old boy. Sadly 11-year old Joshua Perry drowned, too. His body was found Sunday night. Now two Albany families are grieving, along with several other men who risked their lives to try to save the two boys.

 Just after ten Monday morning the body of 23 year old D.J. Vinson was pulled from the Flint River, at the Riverfront Park, just below the Flint Riverquarium, only yards from where Vinson went under trying to save 11 year old Joshua Perry. Albany Dougherty Rescue Team Diver Brian Anderson said "The body was in an eddy in the River, in close proximity to where we found the other body yesterday."

Just before 5 Sunday afternoon David Reaves was snorkeling, when he spotted the two boys, 10 and 11 year old brothers, floundering in the water just off the bank. Reaves said "I had one on my back and the other one on my arm, and they were pushing me under the water."

Four friends fishing on the shore heard Reaves call for help. Ricky Porter said "Saw another white male out there with them, screaming for our help. So we threw our stuff down, ran to the water, jumped in not thinking about the undertow."

 Vinson and his friends formed a human chain to try to get them out. Reaves said "I had lost the one boy on my arm. They swam out there to get him. The current was so strong, wasn't much they could do. I got the other boy back up to the rocks."

Ricky Porter said the panicking Joshua Perry was pulling him under, until D.J. Vinson grabbed him.  Porter said "He tried to grab on top of my head to get up on top of the water himself, ending up taking me under. D.J.Vinson, the hero of the day, swam over here and got this kid off my back. He got on D.J.'s back, struggling with him."

Jason Blackstock said "He was still on him, and he wouldn't let go. Both of them went under the water."  

Reaves said "I wish I could have got both of them. I'll remember that the rest of my life, not being able to help the other boy."

 But Vinson's friends know he died a hero.  Blackstock said " He gave his life trying to save another. A real big hero."

A tragic Sunday that ended with two people dead, and their family and friends grieving.

The two boys' father, Timothy Perry, was at Turtle Park with a third child and thought the two boys were playing in the fountain down the street. The Dougherty County Child Death Investigation Team will not file any criminal charges.

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