Teen talks about Arkansas River rescue

Thursday, August 4th 2005, 11:48 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Fire officials say a 15-year-old boy is improving after he nearly died in the Arkansas River Wednesday afternoon. Jonathan Page was looking for a fishing spot with 3 of his friends, when the current sucked him under the water near the low-water dam.

Officials say he had been under for 5 minutes, when one of the other teens helped pull him back above water. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg talked with his rescuer.

Fire officials say 15-year-old Randy Strain was a hero. Those few minutes that he kept his friend above water might have made the difference between life and death.” Jonathan just happened to get in the right spot I guess, and as he got past that little point, it just pulled him in.” Randy Strain says he was looking for a fishing spot by the low water dam, along with Matt, Jesse, and Jonathan, just as he had many times before, but this time, there was a sudden, swift current and Jonathan went down. "And he came up for a minute and went back down and then he came up again and he just kept coming up and down and then he just stayed under."

The rest of them were nearly caught too. "Well, my friend Jesse tried to go in and help him and he ended up in the same position he was in. Me and my other friend Matt had to sit there and watch it; there wasn't anything we could do.” By sheer luck, the undertow let go of Jesse almost as soon as it grabbed him. "Jesse got spit out pretty quick, so he ended up being okay." But Jonathan had disappeared. "When he didn't come up for awhile, we were kind of worried about him and thinking that he wasn't going to come back up and that we weren't going to find him."

Firefighters on the pedestrian bridge above yelled to Randy that Jonathan was against the dam. Randy waded that direction but still wasn't sure where to go. "Cause I couldn't see him, so I reached down and felt his leg there and pulled him up and he didn't look too good."

Randy’s mother, Sandra: "I'm just proud of him and glad that he and the other kid were there and were able to help." Steve Berg: "Do you think that what your son did was pretty heroic?" Sandra Strain: "Yes."

Tulsa firefighters say Jonathan didn't have a pulse, so clearly he didn't have much time left when Randy got to him.