It started as a relaxing day of fishing on the Kansas River for Johnson County District 2 Firefighter Andrew Eccles and his girlfriend, Breanna. But at 3:30 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 22, things took a drastic turn when the couple noticed several people screaming for help.
Today, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners recognized Andrew and Breanna for their heroism in saving lives. They received medals of courage and honor during the BOCC commission meeting.
“We were fortunate enough to be there, and we wish we could have done more,” Andrew said during the meeting, after receiving his medal.
According to the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, a family was on the sandbar when a beach ball fell into the river. An 11-year-old girl, Rebecca, went into the water to retrieve the ball, but was pulled under the water by the recirculating currents. Two more children and an adult rushed in after her to try and rescue the little girl. All three of these individuals were also overpowered by the currents.
Andrew leapt into action and rescued three people. Sadly, Rebecca perished. After pulling the adult and two children onto his boat, he performed CPR on one child who was in full cardiac arrest. Shortly after, she began breathing again.
“There is no doubt in my mind, that had Andrew not been fishing in that location at that time, this incident would have resulted in four deaths instead of one,” said Fire Chief Michael Callahan, Kansas City Kansas Fire Department. “While Rebecca’s death is a tragedy, the three lives that Andrew saved should be seen and celebrated as heroic. Andrew acted in the highest traditions of the fire service.”
BOCC Chairman Ed Eilert commended the couple for their actions.
“You have the grateful community appreciating the courage that you demonstrated to do what you could to protect and save residents of our community,” said Chairman Eilert during the Sept. 17 BOCC meeting. “There are not words enough to thank you enough for your willingness to intervene and the quick actions that you took to save several members of a family. Thank you so very much.”