Missouri boy critical after fall into flooded river

Monday, April 22, 2013 | 5:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:10 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 22, 2013

LEADWOOD — An eastern Missouri man saved the life of a 12-year-old boy who fell into a flooded river and was sucked through a drainage pipe by jumping in after him, pulling him to land and giving him CPR.

The boy is hospitalized in critical but stable condition after being rescued Sunday evening from the Big River in Leadwood, a community about 65 miles southwest of St. Louis, the Park Hills Daily Journal reported.

Witnesses told police that the boy and two others were trying to cross a bridge that was flooding when the boy fell in.

Robert Salsberry, one of two men who jumped in after the boy, said the force of the river sucked the boy into a nearby culvert pipe.

"He was inside the drain, underneath the water and I grabbed him too," Salsberry said. "We couldn't pull him back. It was so strong we couldn't pull him back. He slipped out of our hands and went through the pipe."

Soon, though, the boy emerged at the other end of the pipe and began floating down the swift-flowing river. Salsberry swam after him.

"I chased him down the river, and he was just floating lifelessly. I dragged him to a little island inside the river, and I gave him CPR. His face was all blue, and I gave him CPR and brought him back to life," Salsberry said.

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