Central HS football coach honored for saving a seven-year-old boy in Panama City
About two months ago, Central High School Head Football Coach, Curt Jones, saved a seven-year-old boy from drowning during a family vacation in Panama City Beach, Florida.
On Tuesday, community members, county judges and Jones' family came together to honor the man they called selfless at the Hamilton County Courthouse. The group gifted the local hero with Tennessee Volunteer and Titans memorabilia.
“You know living through that and seeing that kind of makes you realize hey you're not guaranteed the next day and it’s made me appreciate the little things a little more,” Jones said.
Channel 3 asked Coach Jones about the day he earned the hero title that he does not believe he deserves. He told us he simply, “had a job to do. I was there for a reason that day.”
As he recalls, it was during their annual family vacation in Panama City around 8-8:30 on a Monday morning. That's when Jones says he and his family decided to head down to the beach.
“As we were getting things set up, my son and father-in-law decided to go take a little trip down the beach. I noticed a little boy kept running in and out of the water,” Jones explained.
Jones also noticed a double red flag waving in the wind, which serves as a warning sign that no one should be in the water.
“His mother was there holding an infant as well so I knew she wasn't able to pay total attention to him,” Jones said. “I started watching the young man and he kept going out and he was about knee deep, and then he came back in another time and he was about waist deep. The next thing I realized was he was gone on the way out.”
Without hesitation, Jones went after the seven-year-old boy, who he says was drowning at least 40 yards away from shore.
“[I] was able to overcome and fight through the undertow and get him back and then his dad ended up meeting me about 15 yards and helping me get in the rest of the way and then after he left my father-in-law and my son actually helped drag him in the last 15 feet,” Jones said. “I looked at it as surely if something like that had happened to my son you know somebody would step up and do the same thing.”
Coach Jones admits that experience has changed him and his outlook as a football coach. He says he has a more watchful eye when it comes to his young team and keeping them safe.
As they gear up for Friday’s season opener at Notre Dame, his says message to them is, “just do what you're called to do.”