Local Boy Scout Awarded Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Award
Story by Adam McDonald
Local Boy Scout from Troop 390, Darius Johnson, was awarded the Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Award on August 30, 2015. This award is presented to Scouters who take fate into their own hands when they encounter a life in mortal peril.
In the case of Johnson, there was more than one life on the line when he and his two friends Ben Gardiner and Jaron Sorenson were exploring the sights near Neskowin Beach. They were hiking along and taking pictures on top of Proposal Rock, which the boys were climbing along to get a better view of the ocean. Upon attempting to find a path down from the rock they found a really steep slope; Sorenson tried descending the slope while Gardiner and Johnson remained at the top. Gardiner was standing on a branch that snapped, causing him to fall and land on Sorenson. Sorenson was only holding himself up by grabbing onto a shrub growing out of the side of the slope. Had the shrub given way the two boys would have fallen 30 feet onto pointed rocks. Johnson managed to save his two friends by reaching out and pulling them up from the slope.
“Darius is the real hero of the story,” Sorenson said. “[He] had scoliosis at the time so it was especially hard for him.” Due to the scoliosis, Johnson was unable to extend his arm out as far as he could have, making the rescue an impressive feat. “God was on my side,” Johnson commented. “I know I never would have been able to do that on my own because of my scoliosis.” Johnson also credits his experience in Scouting for helping him to make the right decisions in the moment.
Johnson noted how few options he had at the time. There was nobody within shouting distance. He realized that during the time it would take him to run and get help, there was a real chance that his friends would fall and perish. Johnson was 13 at the time, and said “[I] had the thoughts race through my mind that I was going to die” during the rescue.
After the rescue the three friends had moment of shock while reflecting upon what had happened, which culminated in a group hug. With the shared experience, they have grown closer as friends, and experienced a greater trust within each other. They also have developed a respect for safety, “We check our surroundings more diligently,” Johnson said.
Adam McDonald comes from a strong Scouting background and is currently a student at Portland State University. He is a regular story contributor to the Cascade Pacific Council.