Client Loses His Life Trying to Save Another, Awarded Carnegie Medal

James “Russell” Jenkins heroically saved the life of 5-year-old Elijah Walker, who was drowning in an apartment complex pond.

This tragic accident happened when the young child fell through the ice of the apartment complex pond. His mother and young brothers screamed frantically for help and Jenkins became the hero. He jumped into the pond’s icy water to save the 5-year-old boy who was drowning.

Jenkins was able to keep the young boy’s head above water while rescue crews were trying to reach them. When it got to the point where Jenkins couldn’t keep both their heads above water, he announced that he was taking his last breath, put himself under the water, and help up the boy’s head so he could breathe. James Jenkins did not resurface after doing so.

Despite their best efforts, bystanders, police, and fire crews were unable to reach Elijah and he also went under the water. Both Jenkins and the young boy, Elijah, were recovered by the Columbus Fire Department Rescue Divers in the pond’s 20 feet of water, less than 30 feet from the shore. Jenkins was pronounced dead shortly after, while Elijah was life-flighted to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Although he was put on life support, he died three days later.

James "Russell" Jenkins: A True Hero

Jenkin’s heroism was recently awarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. He has been given the nation’s highest award for civilian heroism, the Carnegie Medal.

Jenkin’s mother, Barbara Meredith, was very excited when she heard the news that her son was being awarded this great honor:

“When I received the call that Russell had been awarded the Carnegie Award, I was so overwhelmed. It was great to see. I miss his smile. He has such a great smile. It would melt your heart when you’d see him. I miss that. I miss his hugs. He talks to me every day.”

Attorney Chuck Boyk represents the estate of James Russell Jenkins. The lawsuit filed on Russell’s behalf claims that the apartment complex and its owners failed to do the following:

  • Failed to have any safety measures in place, such as fencing or natural barriers
  • Failed to warn residents regarding the dangerous and deceptive conditions of the pond
  • Had no rescue or lifesaving equipment available

Jenkins was one of six people to have drowned in the apartment complex pond.

When our office heard of this great honor that Jenkins has received, we were not surprised. Attorney Chuck Boyk said the following:

“Our firm was not surprised at the news of his award. We have heard what a true hero Russell was from countless people who were there that fateful day. He deserves this award and we are sad that he was not able to accept it in person.”

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission 

You can read more about Jenkin’s award by visiting the Carnegie Hero website.

Our law office will continue to pay tribute to Jenkins by sharing his story. You can download the 2014 Edition of The Boyk Bulletin to read more about this story.  

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