Competitive Swimmer Rescues Boy, 3, Whose Fishing Boat Sank on N.J. Lake: 'She's Just So Awesome'

Rachel DeSantis
·2 min read

GoFundMe Jennifer Watson and her family

An aspiring nurse who friends said was already something of a hero thanks to the full-time care she gives her mother is receiving even more praise after she rescued a young boy from drowning.

Jennifer Watson, 22, was listening to music in her house on Easter Sunday when her dogs began barking incessantly, according to a GoFundMe and WABC.

"When she went outside to see what was going on she heard a frantic yell for help," the page said. "A family was stranded in the middle of South Lake. While on a fishing outing their boat took on water and sunk. Fully clothed, dad was struggling to get his … son to the shore."

Watson, a competitive swimmer since age 5, told WABC she looked out onto the lake in Kinnelon, New Jersey and saw the boat was about ¾ underwater — so she jumped into action.

"The dad was screaming, and he was like, 'Help me, help, I have my 3-year-old son!'" she said. "I swam out to them and I grabbed the 3-year-old boy and swam back to shore."

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Once the boy was safely back on shore, Watson's brother Johnny kept the boy and the two men also on board warm with clothes and blankets, the GoFundMe said.

According to the GoFundMe, those who know Watson considered her a hero long before her life-saving actions on Sunday, as she is the primary caregiver for her mother Lynne, who was diagnosed with MS shortly after Watson was born and uses a wheelchair.

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"Every day Jennifer helps her mom to her chair, feeds her, bathes her, makes sure she takes her medication and is just there for her," said the page, which was organized by neighbor Colleen Lazarus. "If mom has an itch, it's Jennifer who scratches it."

Watson is studying to be a nurse, and attends school locally in order to take care of Lynne, the page said.

"She's just so awesome," Lynne Watson told WABC of her daughter. "Jennifer is the most wonderful, generous, compassionate, kind [person]."