TAKING A PLUNGE
What a hero! Shortly after saying “I do,” a Canadian man comes to the rescue of a child in trouble
Meet the groom who jumped into a pond while taking wedding photos to save a boy in distress
Clayton Cook had already taken a leap of faith that day: He married fiancée Brittany Ross. But it wouldn’t be his only leap. While they were posing for post-ceremony wedding photos near a large pond in picturesque Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ontario, on Sept. 22, Clayton, who had been watching three children playing near the pond, panicked when one of them disappeared over a rock ledge that led down to the water. “I said to myself, ‘I’m pretty sure that just drops off,’” he recalls. “‘I’m gonna go check just to make sure the kids are OK.’’’
They weren’t. As he got closer, he saw two of the children pointing at the water. The third kid “was in the water struggling, trying to keep his head up above the water and flailing his arms,” Clayton says. Without hesitating, the groom — clad in his wedding suit and boutonnière — jumped down to save the boy, who’d been pushed in by his playmates, from drowning. “I yelled, ‘Grab my hand!’ and plucked him out and put him on top of the ledge. He was OK but in a lot of shock, and probably tired. I think he was fighting for longer than I thought.”
It all happened so fast. “I originally thought [Clayton] had jumped in the water as a joke or something,” says bride Brittany, who was posing for her solo shots during the rescue. “I was like, ‘ What are you doing?!’” As she shouted to her new husband, their wedding photographer, Darren Hatt, turned around and captured the moment Clayton and the child emerged from the water. “Once I saw that the boy was out, I fired off a few quick snaps,” says Darren. “I think they beautifully captured a moment that people will never forget.”
Despite Clayton’s efforts to play down his heroism, his selflessness saved a life that day. “That’s Clay. It doesn’t surprise me that it happened,” says his new bride. “It’s something he would just instinctively do. How different would everyone’s day have been if we weren’t in the right place at the right time? It was fate. We were meant to be there.” ◼
PROUD WIFE “Clay’s so humble, he didn’t see it as a big deal,” says the bride, Brittany, posing for photos with Clayton about 10 minutes before his heroic rescue. “Clay said he didn’t think about it. He just jumped into action.”
SAFE AND SOUND Clayton says the boy he saved didn’t say anything after he was pulled from the water, and he was eventually picked up from the park by an older sibling. “We’d like to think most people would probably make the same choice,” says Brittany.
TAKING THE PLUNGE “I just grabbed him by the wrist and plucked him out,” says Clayton.