Crew members receive heroism medals

Three members of Venture Crew 312 have been presented with heroism medals for their roles in saving a drowning swimmer last year on a crew trip.

Former Crew Presidents Erin Lesslie and Austen Speare and adult Associate Advisor Joshua Sopha were presented with BSA’s National Medal of Merit at the crew’s award ceremony on June 3.

Indian Waters Council Scout Executive Doug Stone and Council President Joe Anderson made the presentations on behalf of the National Court of Honor, which approved the medals.

According to sworn statements from witnesses, the group was present at the Quarry Falls waterfall outside Highlands, NC on Sept. 6, 2015 when Erin, then the crew’s president, noticed a man who seemed to be struggling in water over his head.  About 100 people were at the site that afternoon but no one else had noticed the man who appeared to be drowning.

Erin directed Austen and Mr. Sopha, both nearby, to try and save him.  The pair entered the water and Austen pulled the man while swimming while Mr. Sopha pushed from below to keep the man from sinking.  The pair aided the man to land where he said thank you and left.

Austen, a former two-term president of the crew and current quartermaster, is a student at the University of South Carolina.

Erin, also a former two-term president of the crew and current treasurer, is a rising senior at Spring Hill High School.

Mr. Sopha is father to two crew members, Jadyn and Trinity.

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