Conway NHES Worker Helped Pull Children from River
Friday, Aug. 9 was far from a typical day at the office for Larry Garon, an SEA member who works as an interviewer at the Conway office of Employment Security. First, there was the big thunderstorm that blew through. Then there was the matter of helping rescue a group of children from the swollen Saco River.
Garon, who lives in Berlin, was honored for his efforts last week at a meeting of the Executive Council. This week, he took a few moments to recount what happened. Garon said he and co-worker Jane Ryan were the only two in the office, on what had been a typical day.
“Everything was normal until the storms came,” he said. “Our kitchen overlooks the river, and I went for a drink of water and I noticed the river had come up two or three feet.”
He drew Ryan’s attention to the situation, and the two of them noticed a couple of kids in the water by a nearby campsite’s sandy beach. “It looked like they got swept away,” Garon said.
Ryan said the two discussed how the situation would be dangerous for tourists unaware of the river’s quick current, and Garon went to help.
“Larry said, ‘I’m just going to go down and check on them,’” Ryan said. “No hesitation, he put on his rain jacket and headed out. I stayed in the office as a couple of people were coming in.”
Garon made his way down the heavily brushy, steep river bank, breaking off thorny branches along the way.
“Those two kids, well there were actually five of them – the two we saw and three smaller kids,” he said. “They were making their way down the edge of the water, and when they saw me, I said ‘grab my hand and we’ll make a chain.’ ”
“I pulled them off the side of the river bank, and made sure there was no one else in the water,” he said. “They were thrilled because they couldn’t find a way out, because there was growth everywhere.”
With the kids now safe, he directed them back to their campsite, which was located around a bend in the river. At that point, he matter-of-factly noted, the office was getting busy so he went right back to work.
“I came in, went back to work and helped people out,” he said.
The whole thing might have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for Ryan.
“Jane wrote an email to my manager, saying I was a hero because I went down there,” Garon said. “It just snowballed from there. My manager went to her boss, and it eventually went to the commissioner and the governor.”
Garon was quick to stress that he didn’t deserve all the credit.
“The Conway local office staff is a team, and we work extremely well together,” he said. “This was a team effort, my going down to the river and Jane in the office assisting clients.”
Ryan said she’s proud to work with someone like Garon.
“I feel it was an exceptional act of courage and I’m glad that one little email got him the recognition he deserves,” she said.