NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 22, 2012) – Park Ranger Matthew Leftwich at J. Percy Priest Lake is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Employee of the Month for April 2012 and recipient of the LRD Star of Life Award for rescuing a struggling swimmer.
“Mr. Leftwich’s actions reflect great credit upon himself, the Nashville District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham, commanding general, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.
Upon seeing two swimmers attempting to cross the lake above the J. Percy Priest Dam on April 18, 2012, Leftwich immediately recognized the danger and rushed to a patrol boat to retrieve the men from the water.
“One swimmer had made it to the shore but the second one was exhausted and struggling to stay afloat about 100 yards offshore when I reached him,” Leftwich said. “He said there was a strong undercurrent and he had been yelling for help, but was not heard,” he added.
Working alone, Leftwich said he was able to get the swimmer aboard the patrol boat by helping pull him up the ladder on the transom of the vessel.
“With our emphasis on reducing drownings and increasing water safety efforts, Matt is a perfect example of taking his responsibilities seriously and saving a life,” said Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, Nashville District commander. “His professionalism, dedication to mission execution and superior performance as a park ranger make him a role model for others to emulate.”
When asked what advice he would give to visitors to Nashville District Corps lakes, Leftwich said, “Please swim in designated areas and don’t attempt to exceed your capabilities. We were fortunate this time.”
Leftwich is married and has one son.
The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.