West Plains, Mo. woman, child saved from drowning by a stranger they never got to thank

OZARK COUNTY, Mo. -- A West Plains woman wants to say thank you to a stranger who she credits with saving her and her child's lives last weekend. Michael Deere has the story from Ozark County.

Last Sunday, Holly Valdez, her boyfriend and their children went to spend the afternoon enjoying the North Fork Recreation Area.

"We got in the water up near the bridge, which is not normally where we start out. We usually start out down at the spring and go up towards the bridge but my daughter wanted to do it this way last week," Valdez said.

The plan was to float down a short distance to the well known Blue Springs.

"It was ice cold but it appeared to be normal as far as its flow, Valdez told KY3. I had a child with me that couldn't swim. I was letting him know, put one arm on me, now kick your feet. Always kick your feet like you can't reach. All the way down, trying to teach him here and there. He had it good until the going got rough."

The current picked up and the water got deeper.

"By the time I knew it, we were past the springs and in trouble," she exclaimed.

"The child I had with me, started to panic, she explained. With him panicking, I couldn't have any control over, hey remember what we learned, or anything and he began to pull me under and we were both going to drown."

Her older daughter and the other child were able to make it to the river's edge, while Valdez and the boy were struggling to stay afloat.

Then out of nowhere she saw a man dive in the water.

"He was trying to pull me and the child to this branch and he couldn't get us both, so I said take him, he can't swim...pushed the child to him and then he reached out his arm and pulled me in to the same limb."

As quickly as he came to the rescue, he was gone.

Now Valdez wants to say thank you.

"Just thank you. I mean if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be sitting here today. My kids might be at a funeral, you know what I'm saying. I appreciate it if you don't want to tell me who you are but just thank you."

Valdez knows now how fast things can change on the river.

"Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it."