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After 46 years of mystery about two men who helped save his life when he was a boy, Kevin Boyd learned their identities and spoke to their survivors the day his story appeared.
Boyd, of Wichita, Kan., described in a Monday column in The News-Enterprise an incident that could have killed him the weekend of July 4, 1967, and his search to find at least one of the men who jumped into action to help him.
Boyd, who formerly lived in Elizabethtown and Radcliff, said he was swimming and jumping into the water at a common family camp site near Rough River when the operator of a motor boat reversed and lost control.
Then an 11-year-old, Boyd was sliced by the blades, chopping away muscle and bone. He needed about 200 stitches.
Immediately after the incident, a Hardin County man rushed to apply a tourniquet to Boyd’s arm and apply pressure to gashes on his back.
He rode with Boyd in the back of a station wagon to a nearby hospital.
The day the story ran in The News-Enterprise, Boyd received a call from the daughter of the man who drove the vehicle, Charles Ray.
The woman remembered her father talking about him and his friend, Bobby Stiles, responding to an emergency like the one described.
Both men are dead. At the time, Ray and his wife, Verna, lived near Rineyville and Stiles and his wife, Linda, lived in Radcliff.
Boyd said the woman gave him contact information for Stiles’ wife of 45 years.
“It’s interesting how fast it unraveled,” he said.
Boyd said he and Linda Stiles shared memories of the event, which she observed while camping with her husband.
He also expressed gratitude for what her husband did.
“Several times, I had goosebumps that it happened so quickly,” he said.
The woman also corrected Boyd’s fuzzy memories. He thought he was taken to a hospital in Brandenburg, but actually went to Leitchfield for treatment.
He also thought Bobby Stiles was an off-duty Elizabethtown police officer, but he worked part-time for the police departments in Radcliff and Vine Grove.
Linda Stiles, now of Elizabethtown, saw Boyd jump off a dock and be struck by the boat.
“We heard the screams and we went running down,” she said.
She wasn’t surprised when her husband and his friend rushed to fish the boy out of the water or when her husband tended to his wounds while Ray went for the station wagon.
“That was just him,” she said. “He did things like that. That was his nature, helping someone.”
Linda Stiles said her husband was upset and worried when he returned from taking the boy to be treated. He felt much better when a newspaper story said he would recover.
She’s proud of what her husband did that day, but said he should not be remembered as a hero because that’s what first responders are supposed to do.
Boyd said reaching his rescuers’ family members and discovering the men’s identities has given him some closure.
He only wishes he tried to track them down while they were alive to express his thanks.
“I am the beneficiary of a lot of good thinking and prompt action,” he said.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.