Eighth grader saves friend from drowning in Coldspring

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A 14-year-old boy whose brother drowned years ago is being honored for jumping into action when his friend was threatened with the same fate. (KTRK)

It's not unusual to find James Thompson doing what he loves most, fishing for bass. In Coldspring, where the 14-year-old lives, there is no shortage of places to fish. However, on December 12, the eighth grader's fishing plans took a very dangerous turn.

It was a rainy day so Thompson and his friends, John Harkins, 14, and Jarret Turner, 13, decided to take a shortcut through a pasture.

"There is a pond that the creeks would go through and we tried to get to the other side," said Turner. "So I walked over but James and John said they were going to find a different way."

Rain was pooling in the area when Thompson stepped into a sink hole and disappeared under water.

"I remember trying to grab on to a tree and get out and then I see John," said Thompson. "So I reached out and he grabbed me and pulled me up."

"I didn't really even think about it," says Harkins. "I kept thinking I may not be able to see my friend anymore."

It wasn't until the boys mentioned the near drowning incident to Lincoln Junior High School Algebra Teacher Toby Hendrix that anyone outside their circle learned about the harrowing experience.

"I thought it was just amazing how the three boys have so much love for each other that they would sacrifice themselves to be so selfless," said Hendix. "But when he told me that his parents didn't know I could understand why because he didn't want them to go through that agony again."

In 2013, Thompson's older brother Ty-reek drowned in a swimming accident on Lake Livingston. The devastation of that loss was still fresh on the mind of Nkita Harrison, Thompson's mother, when she got the call from Hendrix.

"When he said James almost drown, I just broke down crying because instantly I triggered back to two years ago when I buried my son," said Harrison. "He was 14. Tyrek. It just open up the wounds."

Harrison says thanks to the brave action of Harkins, her son did not suffer the same fate as his brother.

"I know that I am blessed. I know a miracle happened that day," she said.

Harkins is scheduled to be honored for his actions at the next Coldspring-Oakhurst Board of Trustees meeting in January. We worked on this story with the Cleveland Advocate, one of our Houston Community Newspapers partners.
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