by Roger Chatell
Zachariah Asa Wayne Ojanpera-Lynch was presented with the Honor Medal on the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America at their Pacesetter Dinner on February 8, at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell. Zack is a Cub Scout in Pack 50 Groton, which is chartered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The national court of honor of the Boy Scouts of America awarded Zack its heroism award for demonstrating heroism and skill in saving life at risk to himself.
When Zachariah was eight-years-old last May, he was outside playing on the swing set, while his older siblings were in the house and his mother rested, suffering from a headache. His two-year-old brother Ephraim had his broken arm in a splint and sling, awaiting casting. Little Ephraim snuck outside, and started throwing objects with his other arm into a manmade fish pond in the yard. The toddler threw a toy in, and then decided that he wanted to get it back. Leaning over the edge, the little boy fell in.
Zack quickly ran over and was able to grab and hold onto him, while his little brother clung to a rock with his feet slipping out from underneath him, hindered by leaves, sticks, rocks, and mud at the bottom of the plastic-lined pond. Ephraim had fallen in four feet of water, and with only one good arm, struggled to keep his footing and not fall off the pond’s steep slope to six feet of deep water.
Holding onto his two-year-old brother, who hadn’t yet learned to swim, Zack began yelling for help as loud as he could, but no one in the house heard his cries. He yelled for help for several minutes, but to no avail. Zack tried to lift Ephraim out, but he was unable to pull out his screaming younger brother, still unsuccessfully trying to get stable footing on the slippery bottom of the pond. After no one responded to the boys’ screams for help, trying not to further injure Ephraim’s broken arm, Zack summoned all his strength and pulled his brother from the water. Soaked and covered in mud, he helped his brother into the house where their mother was.
Zachariah’s quick thinking averted disaster. He was a Cub Scout for less than two years and is not a strong swimmer, but trained in water safety, he knew to lie down on the ground and grab onto his brother’s good hand.