Governor Honors Four Eastern Iowans For Saving Children
By Mark Carlson, Reporter
DES MOINES, Iowa - Governor Terry Branstad honored four Eastern Iowans with "Lifesaving Awards" Friday morning at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The efforts of four people ranging in age from 17 to 41 saved the lives of two children who nearly drown in the Cedar River in June of 2011, the Governor said.
"I'm very proud," said Deborah Jones, who accepted the award for her son, Jonathan Jones of Lisbon, who died after jumping into the river at Palisades-Kepler State Park to save the six and nine-year-old boys. Three others entered the river to try and help Jones and the boys, but were only able to rescue the boys before Jones went under the water. His body was recovered two days later.
"It's bittersweet," said Kujitime Ajro of Cedar Rapids, who helped pull the oldest boy from the water. "Jonathan Jones didn't make it, he gave his life for those kids."
Makeda Barkley of Lisbon and Nathan Marling of Cedar Rapids were also honored for their efforts. Barkley helped Ajro and one boy back to shore, while Marling went into the water to get the other boy from Jones.
"It's very unexpected," said Barkely. "I'm glad I was able to help out."
The four were at the park for various reasons when they went in after the boys, who have never been identified by the Linn County Sheriff's office, on June 19, 2011. According to investigators the boys were walking on a sandbar near their parents, who didn't know how to swim, when the younger boy fell into deeper water. His brother grabbed hold of him, but both were swept away by the current. Jones, who was fishing in the area, was the first person to enter the water in pursuit of the boys.
"God had a plan for (Jonathan) that day," said Deborah Jones. "We miss him."
Lt. Gene Parks of the Linn County Sheriff's office nominated the four Eastern Iowans for the "Governor's Lifesaving Award" after investigating the case.
"They put their lives on the line and saved the two kids from drowning," Parks said. "An awesome thing to do."
18 total people were honored for various heroic efforts Friday morning at a ceremony at the Susan Knapp Amphitheater. Jones, Ajro, Barkley and Marling were four of seven people to receive the highest honor, the "Lifesaving with Valor" award, presented to citizens who risked their own lives to save another.
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