“I was sort of keeping a close eye on them, just because they were close to the water,” Clayton Cook told BBC World News’ “Newsday.”
Cook said he was waiting for his turn to be photographed when he became concerned when he suddenly noticed that only two of the three children were standing on a rock ledge that led down to the pond.
“I kind of just said to myself, well I’m pretty sure that just drops off, and I’m going to go check just to make sure the kids are okay,” he told the BBC this week. “When I got there, they were kind of looking down in the water and pointing. That’s when I saw the boy — he was in the water, struggling, trying to keep his head up above the water and just flailing his arms quite a bit and just trying to keep air in himself. That’s when I was able to kind of jump down the rock ledge.”
Cook said he told the boy, “Grab my hand, grab my hand.” He said he was able to grab the boy by his wrist, “and I kind of plucked him out and put him on top of the ledge there.” Cook told the BBC that although the boy was okay, “he was in a lot of shock, and he was probably pretty tired. I think he was fighting for longer than I even thought.”
The newlyweds declined a request for an interview with The Washington Post, saying they wanted to spend their time focusing on each other now.
It was a rare moment — and an even rarer one to be able to capture on camera.
When Cook’s bride saw him in the water during their wedding photo shoot, she shouted, “What are you doing!” prompting their photographer to turn around — and start snapping pictures, Ross Cook told the BBC.
Their photographer, Darren Hatt, posted the photos online over the weekend, showing Clayton Cook plopping the boy down on dry land. “A special shout out to last night’s groom Clayton!” Hatt wrote in the post on Facebook. “While I was taking solo pictures of the bride this little guy was pushed into the river behind me by another child. By the time the bride noticed and shouted out, Clayton had already jumped down and brought him to safety. His quick action saved the little guy who was struggling to swim. Well done sir!”
The pictures have drawn numerous shares and comments on social media, which Cook said seems “crazy” to him.
The photographer could not immediately be reached for comment, but he told CTV News the groom’s actions were “commendable.” Hatt said, “Almost as soon as I realized what was going on, he had already saved the day.”
Since the wedding-day water rescue, Ross Cook told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, she has started calling her quick-thinking groom her “hero husband.”
“Clay’s so humble to begin with that he didn’t see it as a big deal,” she said. “Clay said he didn’t even think about it; he just jumped into action. The kid’s in the water — what are you going to do? You’re going to pull him out.”
For Clayton Cook, jumping into the water was a no-brainer, his wife told BBC World News. “We’d like to think most people would probably make the same choice,” she said.