“A Life Saved,” Ensign, Apr. 1997, 69
“These boys are going to be something special to me for the rest of my life,” says John Fields Jr. of 15-year-old Jason Mummert (above, left) and 12-year-old Charles Douglass. “I owe them my life.”
One Saturday, Brother Fields, an experienced canoeist, took the two neighbor boys on a canoe trip down the rain-swollen upper west branch of the Conococheague Creek in Pennsylvania. When the canoe hit a sycamore tree, it capsized and became stuck against the tree. The two boys were able to hold onto the canoe and stay above water, but Brother Fields’s ankle had been caught inside the canoe.
“I was under water,” Brother Fields remembers. “It seemed like forever. At first I thought, This can’t be happening to me. I couldn’t get my face up. When I had used up every last bit of energy, I thought, I’m going to find out today what the afterlife is like.”
With difficulty, the boys finally helped Brother Fields lift his head. “What do we do?” Charlie asked.
“Pray. That’s all you can do,” Brother Fields answered.
While Jason ran for help, 85-pound Charlie held up 220-pound Brother Fields for almost an hour, praying they wouldn’t be swept away by the swift current. It took 20 rescuers several minutes to perform the complicated water rescue. Brother Fields suffered a scraped, swollen leg and a severely sprained ankle.
“I now realize that time’s too short here in mortality to worry about little things,” Brother Fields said after the accident. He is the father of six children and the owner of an auto parts store in Hamilton Township, Pennsylvania. He and Charles Douglass are members of the Chambersburg Second Ward, York Pennsylvania Stake, where Brother Fields serves as ward mission leader.