JOHNS CREEK - On Sept. 21, Ben Hooper drove home from Johns Creek High School just like any other ordinary day. When he pulled into his family’s Doublegate subdivision driveway on that rainy afternoon, Hooper had no idea how extraordinary that day would become.
Hooper, 18, a senior at Johns Creek High School and an Eagle Scout, was awarded the Boy Scouts of America’s highest heroism award Feb. 7, the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, for saving his brother’s life. The award has only been presented 215 times, since first presented in 1938.
When Hooper arrived home on the rainy Monday afternoon, he was greeted by his mom, who said that his two brothers, Cole, 10, and Josh, 12, were trapped in a creek near the house.
Cole and Josh had been playing in a field next to a small creek in the neighborhood, which usually holds about 2-3 feet of water, said Hooper. But the heavy rains that poured onto the metro Atlanta area last September caused the creek to rise several feet, spilling onto the field.
When Hooper arrived, his brothers were hanging onto trees about 3 feet from the other. Hooper said he ran to the edge of the water, removed his clothes so he wouldn’t get weighed down and jumped into the water to save his brothers.
“I almost got swept away,” said Hooper. “The current was insane. I grabbed onto a tree but then I saw logs and debris floating towards us. One of the logs was nearly the size of a man so I wanted to get (my brothers) out as quickly as possible. I was trying to think of ways to get to them but everything was so risky.”
Within seconds, Hooper’s mother, Jill, and brother Graham, 15, arrived with a garden hose, the only thing they could find to help with the rescue effort.
“We passed the hose and Cole grabbed onto it, but he couldn’t hang onto the tree and the hose at the same time, so he was swept away,” said Hooper, who added that Josh was pulled in at that time by his mother. “When Cole got swept away, I went with the current, too. Graham jumped in at that time but missed grabbing Cole and grabbed onto a tree. Luckily, I was able to grab Cole and hold him up above the water.”
After a few minutes of maneuvering in the water, Hooper was able to safely push Cole to Graham and angled himself out of the water, too. All of the Hooper boys were finally out of the water, unharmed.
“I wasn’t really scared,” said Hooper. “I was just doing what needed to be done.”
Hooper said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I’m just glad that no one was hurt and everyone was OK,” he said.
In November, the Johns Creek City Council recognized Hooper’s actions with a privileged resolution. Graham Hooper was also recognized by City Council, as he also assisted with the rescue.
The Honor Medal was presented at a Troop Court of Honor at Perimeter Church. Perimeter Church is the sponsoring organization for Troop 317.
“It’s a really big honor to receive that award,” said Hooper. “But I was just there at the right time.”
For more information on the Boy Scout Honor Medal With Crossed Palms, and other heroism awards, visit www.scouting.org/media/mediakit/awards.aspx.