Vancouver’s Aaron Kinnes awarded ‘Medal of Honor’ for saving drowning man

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Aaron Kinnes plays soccer for Vancouver Victory FC. He saved a life in June and was recently awarded for his bravery.

VANCOUVER, WA— Aaron Kinnes was doing more than playing soccer in the Evergreen Premier League last June. He was also involved in a water rescue that saved a man from drowning.

v2fc-full-color-crest-croppedRecently Kinnes was awarded a ‘Medal of Honor’ for his quick and brave actions in the incident. The V2FC defender / midfielder said via social media that he was just doing the right thing, instinctively jumping in when he saw the man was in trouble. See the initial story report below.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A good Samaritan helped rescue a man from the Willamette River Thursday evening after his boat flipped over, officials said.

Witnesses on the beach said they heard someone screaming and saw a motorboat spinning around in circles around 8:30 p.m.

According to the Coast Guard, a good Samaritan swam out to help a person who landed in the water after the boat flipped. The person in the water needed help staying afloat. He reportedly had trouble swimming.

The victim and good Samaritan were pulled onto another person’s boat. From there, the Coast Guard took over and helped transport the victim to the hospital.

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Aaron Kinnes skies for the ball in a 2015 match against Wenatchee. (Bradley York)

“I was cliff jumping at this place in Portland and was on a first date actually,” Aaron says about the night he jumped into action. “We were just swimming and hanging out and having a picnic. When we heard a splash and a guy yelling for help. And we look out and see a dingy spinning in circles and a guy next to it bobbing up and down and yelling for help. So I looked at the girl and was like ‘I need to go out and help him.’ So I take off my shirt and shoes and jump out and start swimming out to him.”

Once Aaron was in the water, the reality of the task sunk in. “He is about 100 yards out or so. I finally get to him and he is freaking out and can’t swim. So I calm him down and tell him to take off all of his clothes because he is wearing shoes and sweatshirts and all that stuff that is weighting him down. We get that off and I swim behind him and grab him under his armpits and start pulling him back to shore. But after a minute I realize that there is no way both of us are going to make it back because we are in the Willamette and the current is to strong. So I start looking around for help and I see a kayak off in the distance so I let go of him and wave over for help. He sees us and starts coming our way.”

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The decision to flag for help is a lifesaver, but the moments after are tense. “I look back and the guy is now completely under water and I have to dive down and pull him up. He is barely conscious now because he has taken in so much water that I am struggling to keep him up. The guy in the kayak comes over and has a phone and calls 911. Then we see another boat and I wave it over. And the guy goes back under water and I have to pull him back up. Now he is unconscious. We get him into the other boat and I start doing compressions on him and he starts spitting up water and comes back to life.”

It seems like hours, but it was minutes before officials arrive. “Finally the Coast Guard comes and takes us away and they keep working on him,” Aaron remembers. “They ask me a few questions and stuff and have me tell the story. And then send me home.”

Now Aaron lives in a post-rescue world. “I find out a few weeks later that I am getting put up for the Medal of Honor and find out a couple weeks ago I won it and tonight I accepted the medal! Pretty crazy!”

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