2013-03-08 / People

Scout honored for saving two lives

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Parker Montano of South Portland accepts the Boy Scouts of America’s Heroism Award from David Sinclair of the Pine Tree Council. Montano received the award for saving two children in danger of drowning at a hotel pool in New Jersey this summer. (Jack Flagler photo) Parker Montano of South Portland accepts the Boy Scouts of America’s Heroism Award from David Sinclair of the Pine Tree Council. Montano received the award for saving two children in danger of drowning at a hotel pool in New Jersey this summer. (Jack Flagler photo) PORTLAND — Jason Montano had just returned home from football camp this summer, when his mother, Karen Montano, told him that his older brother Parker “had some important news” from the family’s recent vacation to New Jersey.

Put on the spot, Parker, a Star Scout pursuing Eagle Scout rank with Troop 1 in Portland and a South Portland resident, put the news as simply and modestly as he could.

“I saved two people,” Parker told his brother.

Amazed, Jason, 12, asked for more details. Parker, a 15-year-old sophomore at Cheverus High School, told him the same story he would recount months later, when he received the Heroism Award from the Boy Scouts of America on Feb. 28 in Portland.

Parker said he was swimming in the hotel pool in New Jersey with a group of children. This was July, in the middle of a heat wave. Parker’s parents watched by the side of the pool as the 15 or 20 children in the water started playing “chicken fights,” a game in which one child hops up on another’s shoulders, and tries to knock their opponent off balance, into the water.

The children playing had drifted from the shallow end toward deeper water and, after one team went down, Karen Montano said she saw a boy about Parker’s age grab onto her son. She said her “mother hackles” were raised, and she wasn’t sure why the boy was grabbing Parker.

Parker said he was similarly confused when the two came out of the water, until the boy gasped that he couldn’t swim. The boy was around Parker’s age, but was about 60 pounds heavier. Still, Parker was able to reach the side of the pool, where the boy pulled himself up out of the pool.

While Parker was catching his breath, a woman who had been videotaping the children in the water screamed that her daughter couldn’t swim. Parker looked into the middle of the pool and saw a girl he guessed was around 12 years old bob under the water. She had been on the boy’s shoulders before they went down in the pool.

Parker swam over to the spot he saw the girl go under, dove down, grabbed her, and brought her back to the side of the pool, where she was lifted out. Parker’s father, Peter Montano, said after a tense moment the girl coughed and began breathing.

“Now that I think back, it happened really fast, but as it was happening it seemed like everything was slowed down,” Parker said.

Parker’s father is an assistant troop leader for Boy Scout Troop 1 in Portland. Peter applied to the Boy Scouts of America, a national organization based in Irving, Texas, to nominate Parker for the Heroism Award.

A national committee agreed Parker was deserving of the award, which necessitates the winner “demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life.” The Boys Scouts of America awarded 155 Heroism Awards in 2012.

Parker said the lessons he learned in Boy Scouts helped him save the two children in the pool, but not through any specific lessons or techniques.

“I think just everything that they have taught me was in what I did instinctually. I wasn’t thinking, ‘OK, they taught me this, now I have to do this,” Parker said.

His father said Parker’s bravery and heroism reflected his son’s attitude as a whole.

“He really puts others right in the forefront. He cares about people and puts others first,” Peter said. “That’s how we raised our kids. I guess they listened.”

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