This 16-Year-Old Saved a Group of Teenage Girls After Their Car Plunged into a River

Sixteen-year-old Corion Evans made a daring rescue to save three teenage girls after their car sunk into the water

corion evans shakes hands with mayor billy knightCourtesy Tricia L. Thigpen
Corion Evans was honored for his actions by Mayor Billy Knight.

There is no way they just drove into that water, thought ­Corion Evans. The 16-year-old was hanging out with friends in a parking area underneath a Moss Point, Mississippi, highway in July when a sedan with three teenage girls inside propelled off a boat ramp and into the Pascagoula River. It came to rest some 20 feet from land, then sank. The driver, Evans would learn, had blindly followed erroneous directions from her GPS.

It was around 2:30 a.m. by the time Evans and brothers Karon and Caleb Bradley got to the river’s edge. In the darkness, they could barely make out the girls clinging to the roof, the only part of the car still, barely, above water. But they could hear screaming.

Evans ripped off his shirt and shoes, tossed his phone down, then dived into the water, a river he knew alligators called home. He helped the first girl he saw and, keeping her head above water, led her ashore.

Just then, a man called out. Police Officer Garry Mercer had arrived. He dived into the river to help another of the girls. But halfway back to shore, she panicked and went underwater, pulling Mercer down with her.

Evans jumped back in the water and helped them until they could stand. “If he hadn’t been there, who knows?” Mercer told the Washington Post.

There was still one girl in the water. Cora Watson, 19, could not swim. She was gulping water, struggling to stay afloat. And scared.

“I heard Cora screaming ‘Help!’ and I thought she was done,” Caleb told WLOX in Biloxi.

“I just knew my last breath was coming,” Watson said. “My mind said, You’re slowly losing yourself.” She began to go under. Then, a jolt. “Corion had grabbed me.”

The three girls and Officer Mercer were taken to the hospital and released. They’re alive because ­Corion Evans risked his life to save them. They’re alive, says his mother, ­Marquita Evans, because Corion ­Evans broke his curfew.

But she’s not mad, she told the Post. “He had a good reason.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.