Basalt hero humble about plucking boys from pond

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Two boys who were in danger of drowning in a pond at the Willits subdivision Tuesday were plucked from the water by a Basalt employee who happened to be working nearby.

Shawn Terry was working on the sprinkler system at the Willits soccer field at about 2:30 p.m., when he noticed three young boys making their way to the small pond immediately east of the field.

“They went out there like boys do and were just playing,” said Terry.

He estimated the boys’ ages at between 5 and 10. Terry heard the boys whooping it up a short time later but he didn’t immediately sense anything was wrong.

When he glanced over he saw two boys floundering in the water and a third on the shore calling for help. One of the boys attempted to dog paddle, then bobbed a few times before he went under while Terry waded in.

“The youngest of the three was submerged,” said Terry. “I was able to grab him by the back of the shirt and pull him out.”

Terry said he is 5 feet 10 inches tall and the water came up to his neck. It was well over the heads of the boys.

The other boy fared better because he rolled onto his back and was floating, but he also appeared at risk so Terry fished him out.

Terry said he feels kind of bad because he chewed the boys out once they were safe. He had previously warned them about getting too close to the river.

Terry’s co-worker had been farther away from the pond when the boys got into trouble, so he was uncertain what the commotion was about. “He thought I was going for a swim,” Terry laughed.

But word of the brave act spread quickly among the public works department and other town government employees, and Terry was hailed as a hero. He went to the shop after saving the boys to get permission to go home and change his clothes.

“We were thrilled to death that tragedy was avoided,” said Gerry Pace, Basalt public works director.

Pace said the Willits pond, which was deeded from the developer to the town, is up to 40 feet deep. In addition, it drops suddenly from the shore due to excavation for fill material.

Pace said “no swimming” signs will be posted along the pond, which includes inviting frontage right next to the soccer field and a bicycle path.

Kids being kids, it is uncertain if that will be enough. The town will use natural barriers, such as cat tails and other plants, to steer people away from the water’s edge, Pace said. It will also consider erecting a fence if other efforts aren’t successful.

Pace said he wants to work with the developers – Michael Lipkin, Clay Crossland and Paul Adams – to create a designated area where people can wade or swim. He wants to taper the pond bottom in that area and keep it relatively shallow.

Terry remains humble about being a hero.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done.”

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