Families reflect on pool rescue

One month after the incident, the family of a 14-year-old Virginia boy who rescued a child from the Philippi City Pool July 24, along with the rescued boy’s family, still reflect on the tragedy that was averted.

When Justin Travis, of Marshall, Va., who was visiting family in Barbour County, went to the Philippi City Pool that day, he didn’t anticipate saving the life of another boy.

The Travis family and the family of the rescued 8-year-old Barbour County boy say they still keep in touch. The rescued boy’s family has asked that their names remain anonymous.

“We were very appreciative of (Justin’s) actions, and we felt that he needed some recognition for what he did,” said the rescued boy’s mother. “We kind of see him as an angel.”

She describes that day as being very frightening. She said her son is now doing well.

“He is great,” she said. “He’s getting ready to start school. He is doing just fine.”

Justin, who said he is not an avid swimmer, said he remembers seeing the 8-year-old boy under the water in a crouching position. He said he gave the boy a thumbs up, but the boy didn’t respond.

“I was just going underwater for a little bit, and I saw that he wasn’t moving,” Justin said, adding that he then went to the surface for air, returned to the boy and tilted the boy’s head up. He said the boy’s head dropped back down when he let go.

Justin said he brought the boy to the surface and started toward the side of the pool. He said the boy’s cousin saw what had happened and sought the help of the lifeguards on duty. The Barbour County Emergency Medical Squad responded, and the boy was flown to a hospital in Morgantown.

“That would have been real devastating, so I’m glad that it worked out the way it did,” Mike Travis, of Philippi, and Justin’s father, said.

Justin’s actions in rescuing the boy made his family proud.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” Cora Travis, Justin’s mother, said. “He’s always been the kind of kid to help people.”

Mike Travis said that his family has been very supportive of his son’s actions. He said he told his son he was very proud of him, and reminded him to keep a humble mind and heart.

“He’s always been real concerned about others, real helpful,” Mike Travis said, adding that a kindergarten-aged Justin assisted a boy in a wheelchair who later became one of his best friends. “He’s always been thoughtful of others and helping of people in need.”

While his actions helped to save a young boy’s life, Justin is like many other boys his age. He said he loves to play video games, and that he aspires to join the military one day. Mike Travis said he believes his son learned the skills to help rescue the younger boy by watching “Navy Seals.”