Several students taking canoeing class at Howard Payne University honored for bravery

POSTED: 10:57 PM Oct 08 2013   UPDATED: 8:06 PM Oct 09 2013
Students from HPU's canoeing class
BROWNWOOD, Texas -

Nine college students received awards Tuesday evening at the Brown County Water Improvement District board meeting for their heroic actions a few weeks ago.

On September 17, 2013, several students were at Lake Brownwood, participating in Howard Payne University's (HPU) canoeing class, when they heard someone scream for help and immediately jumped into action to rescue the victim.

The victim was reportedly a teenaged girl who planned to commit suicide but then changed her mind once she got into the water.

"I didn't know what to think at the time," HPU sophomore Kristian Simpson said. "It was just an instinct to go and help her."

Simpson was one of the first students to reach the girl. "I was just obeying God and what He would want any of us to do, so for me it was reward enough before I even got rewarded here."

Simpson described how her classmate gave the girl a life-jacket, and how the professor helped her onto a canoe and paddled to shore, while other classmates called 9-1-1.

HPU senior Courtney Beene was there to comfort the victim throughout the ordeal. "I think the great thing about this experience is it had a positive ending, and one day she will affect someone's life hopefully the way we affected hers." 

Professor of the canoeing class, Dr. Rick Beelby, said he was proud of his students and would expect no less from them in this particular situation. He also said he had never encountered a situation like that. 

If you or anyone you know is battling with depression or thoughts of suicide, you can visit or call Brownwood's Center for Life Resources. Their number is (325) 646-9574. Visit their website to get more facts.