Lake Vaikmaw father and daughter identified for rescuing three drowning swimmers

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LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WECT) — Saturday, June 4 was a regular day at the lake for a father and daughter.

Walt Williamson and his 8-year-old daughter Jean Aubrey wanted to spend a day jet skiing on the waters of Lake Wekamaw, which they often do on hot summer days, and when they started to dock their boat they saw some problems in the water.

“As we were going, we saw three people in the water struggling,” Williamson said.

Walt and Jean Aubrey jumped into action within seconds while Walt dove into the water to save the swimmers.

“So I told Jean Aubrey to sit on a jet ski and I jumped off the wing and got the first one, put him back on the jet ski, went and got the second victim, put him back on the jet ski and then I went and found the third victim,” Williamson said.

At the time, five were aboard a jet ski designed for three people. To solidify the space, Walt said he held the third victim in his arms while Jean Aubrey carried them into shallow water where they could stand.

The father-daughter duo were honored at Tuesday night’s Lake Wekamaw Municipal Council meeting.

Mayor Matt Wilson presented both of them with the Hometown Hero Awards and expressed how proud he is of Walt and Jean Aubrey.

“My hat goes to Walt and his daughter, for one he even cranked the jet ski without a kill switch. And she could drive over there. Well, I mean, it was just good stuff,” Wilson said.

Walt says that he always grew up around the lake and that his mother taught him to swim from a young age. Here, he says, he was inspired to teach his children to swim and jet ski from a young age.

Jean Aubrey immediately said that she didn’t think twice about helping her father.

“I really didn’t want people to drown because I knew it would be tragic if a family lost three more people,” said Jean Aubrey.

While Walt and Jean Aubrey helped save three lives, a fourth person, part of the same group of swimmers, did not come out of the lake that day.

Both said that while it’s not always choppy at Lake Waikamaw, it’s best to wear life jackets regardless of the water conditions.

Despite being rewarded for being a hero, the two see each other as just helpful citizens.

“We’ve only been driving, and anytime people need help, I’m always willing to help,” Williamson said.

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