Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: April Chizum

Good Samaritans play a crucially important role on the waterways. When a recreational boater needs assistance on the water, other boaters in the area can provide immediate assistance, mitigating further damage and saving lives. These Good Samaritans are true heroes and often times go unnoticed. Below, we share the story of April Chizum, a woman who witnessed a terrible boating accident and had the courage to step in and help.

April Chizum, who lives along the Magic Reservoir, Idaho, saved a man and two children after they were thrown from their boat. Photo courtesy of April Chizum.

April Chizum, who lives along the Magic Reservoir, Idaho, saved a man and two children after they were thrown from their boat. Photo courtesy of April Chizum.

Written By Aux. David Glaser

April Chizum was enjoying a day of kayaking on the Magic Reservoir in Idaho, when the weather started to change. She figured she should head in and wait out the impending storm.

On her way in, she noticed a family of five out on a small, 14 foot aluminum boat.

“I was thinking to myself that it wasn’t a good idea,” Chizum said. “The wind was picking up.”

Chizum figured they would head in soon enough and continued toward home. A short while later, she heard a noise she thought was a flock of seagulls.

When she looked out on the water, she was horrified by what she saw: the same family of five she had seen earlier was now struggling in the water with their boat sinking behind them.

“Luckily I had my binoculars,” she said. “I looked and saw there was no one else around.”

Chizum still had her kayak in the back of her truck and decided she needed to take action quickly.

She called 911, giving them an assessment of the situation. She now had a choice: stay and wait for responders or head into the water herself.

“I thought to myself, ‘I am capable of this’,” said Chizum.

Chizum rescued the man and two children near the Magic Resort on the Magic Reservoir, Idaho. Image courtesy of Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game.

Chizum rescued the man and two children near the Magic Resort on the Magic Reservoir, Idaho. Image courtesy of Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game.

Recognizing the dangers, Chizum didn’t want to make matters worse by putting her own life in danger as well. She assessed the area, weather and situation, and decided she was able to assist.

Twenty minutes later, she was on scene and ready to do what she could to get the family to shore. Once she arrived, she found a man with his three-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.

“When I got to them, they began to panic and started to grab on to my kayak,” she said. Chizum immediately recognized she needed to calm them down. “I told them if they didn’t let go, we would all be in trouble.”

Luckily, the two children were wearing life jackets and able to keep themselves afloat. The father, who was not wearing a life jacket, was struggling to keep his head above water.

She pulled the youngest into her kayak with her. She directed the daughter to hold onto the side and the father to hold onto the handle at the back of her kayak.

She began paddling back to shore, telling the father to help by kicking to provide more momentum.

About half way back to shore, the father asked Chizum, “Where are my wife and other child?”

Looking around, Chizum saw a woman and child being helped ashore by another local family.

By the time Chizum paddled the father and his two children to shore they were hypothermic. The rest of Chizum’s community had heard the commotion and were arriving along the shore with blankets for the family.

Forty minutes later, paramedics finally arrived, and Chizum relaxed; the family of five was safe.

That day, Chizum made a difference. She played the role of a Good Samaritan in a case that could have had a drastically different outcome. She encourages all boaters and those that live along the waterways to pay attention to others around them.

“When I am out on the water, I would hope someone is paying attention to me,” Chizum said. “It’s really important – you can save lives.”

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

Tags: , , ,