TAK­ING A PLUNGE

What a hero! Shortly af­ter say­ing “I do,” a Cana­dian man comes to the res­cue of a child in trou­ble

In Touch (USA) - - In Tiuch -

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.

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