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Brookland teen saves family during weekend floating trip

Current River - Doniphan, MO
Current River - Doniphan, MO(KAIT 8)
Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:07 PM CDT
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RIPLEY COUNTY, Mo. (KAIT) - A Labor Day weekend floating trip on the Current River, outside Doniphan, turned into a terrifying moment for 15-year-old Aiden Jernigan and his family.

Jernigan’s parents, his girlfriend, and her family were heading toward a submerged tree with six rafts roped together.

He sensed danger as they were approaching a submerged tree, with branches sticking out.

“I tried to redirect it, but it was too late, and it started speeding up the water,” Jernigan said.

Before Jernigan could safely get his family away from it, the tree threw the family off their tubes.

“At that point when we hit the log, I got sucked under and I was able to get back out,” he said.

Larry Casey, Jernigan’s girlfriend’s grandfather, said that moment terrified everyone involved.

“The current was so significant that my legs were pushed underneath me,” Casey said. “I couldn’t regain my balance.”

Jernigan remained calm and acted off of instinct when he managed to detain the floats and get everyone to safety, which astonished Casey.

“It was miraculous that he was doing this without any parental guidance at all,” he said.

Brookland Public Schools and the Brookland Jr. ROTC program have recognized Jernigan’s heroic acts.

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