A Hero at Only 11 Years Old

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MOULTRIE COUNTY - An 11 year old grandson saved his grandparents lives in what could have been a fatal kayaking trip.

Madeline VanKeuren, who considers herself a kayak enthusiast took to Kaskaskia River on Wednesday fully confident alongside husband Bill and grandson Reed, until the current took a turn for the worst.

"I was on the river last week and the current was flowing but it was flowing heavier and it didn't seem to be a lot of things in the river that I thought we couldn't manage around," Madeline VanKeuren told WAND News.


Tipping over in the kayak all three were dispersed in the river, Madeline and Bill ended up clinging to a fallen tree in the river and Reed ended up on land. Reed found a cell phone of his grandparents in their items and called for help and was able to direct responders to their exact location using a ping from the cell phone signal.


"If he hadn't had the cell phone I don't know how we would've..we basically would've had to get out of that tree and float downstream for help," Bill VanKeuren said.

Responders safely brought Madeline and Bill to land and were even more impressed with how Reed, an 11 year old stayed as composed as he did.


"The 911 operator said, you're grandson is awesome, he's one of the best at relaying the information, staying with us and talking to us than anybody we've talked to," Bill said.

Bill and Madeline feel blessed to be alive and couldn't be prouder and more grateful for Reed.


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