For most people, braving alligator-infested waters to rescue a neighbor probably isn’t high on the list of things they want to do.
But not one heroic 14-year-old.
For him, it wasn’t enough to brave the danger to rescue a life, he also had to show off his incredible swimming skills in the process.
Collin Alley caught sight of his neighbor’s boat, overturned, in the lake by his house.
On February 10, 14-year-old Collin Alley, resident of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was riding his dirt bike around his lakeside home when he caught sight of something that made him stop.
“I look out and I see a boat flipped over in the middle of the lake,” Collin told CBS12 News.
Collin recognized it instantly. The boat belonged to his 76-year-old neighbor, Clif Boyle, a great-grandfather and retired college professor.
Due to the changing wind, he lost his footing and his 10-foot sailboat tipped over. The man was initially trapped under it, but managed to find an air pocket under the vessel which kept him alive.
Then, taking a deep breath, he got himself out from underneath the vessel.
“However, by that time, I was totally exhausted with just enough strength to hang on the rudder to keep afloat,” Boyle wrote, according to TCPalm.com.
Acting purely on instinct, Collin jumped into action.
Without batting an eyelid, Collin moved fast.
“The first thing I thought of was go inside, get one of my family members, call the cops or the ambulance to come down,” Collin said according to TCPalm.com.
But time was not on Boyle’s side. Complicating matters were the dozens of alligators that inhabited the lake. If Boyle was not brought to safety soon, he might be attacked.
So, the brave Collin grabbed his gear—a life vest and boogie board—and rushed headlong into the alligator-infested waters to save his elderly neighbor.
“When he came and swam, I don’t know if he’s an Olympic swimmer to tell you the truth, but he seemed to be coming pretty fast,” Boyle told CBS12 News.
Collin pulled Boyle and the 10-foot boat back towards the shore.
Collin swam the 100 feet to reach Boyle in no time at all. He passed the struggling man a life-preserver and then, using his board as a flotation device, pulled the 10-foot sailboat, with Boyle clinging to the side, towards the shore.
“He kept on swimming and I was kicking, but I have to tell you at 76 years old, there’s not a lot of kick left,” Boyle told CBS12 News. “I can tell you that for sure. And if he didn’t come along I might not be a great-grandfather anymore. I think he really saved my life. I really believe that.”
Collin ended up pulling the sailboat about halfway back to shore before two other people in a canoe came to help tow them back the rest of the way.
Boyle was then pulled to dry land and that was when first responders from the St. Lucie County Fire District showed up. After a quick examination, they determined that Boyle did not have to go to the hospital.
Collin was awarded as a citizen hero for his bravery.
Yesterday 14 year old Collin Allen was honored as a Citizen Hero for rescuing his neighbor from a capsized sailboat. Thank you for your bravery and compassion, Collin… we are very proud of you!
Blown away by Collin’s heroism, the St. Lucie County Fire District decided to honor him at a ceremony held at their headquarters on March 21. There, the young boy was honored as a citizen hero and given a medal and certificate.
“If I would consider a hero of the day, it had to be Collin,” Boyle told CBS12 News. “He was unbelievable.”
But Collin doesn’t see it that way. To him, he just did what he thought was right.
“I wouldn’t really call myself a hero, I think I’m just trying to do a good deed,” Collin told CBS12 News.