"I was just like, 'I can't let none of these folks die.'"
MOSS POINT, Miss. -- A 16-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero after he helped rescue four people when a car drove off a boat launch and into a Mississippi river.
The incident happened Sunday at around 2:30 a.m., when the car, which had three teenage girls inside, drove into the Pascagoula River in Moss Point, floated about 20 feet away from shore and started sinking, the Moss Point Police Department said in a statement.
"The driver of that vehicle stated she was following her GPS and did not realize she was going into the water," police said.
Corion Evans, 16, said he immediately ran over, took off his shoes and shirt and went into the water when he saw the car sinking and heard the three occupants shouting for help.
"I was just like, 'I can't let none of these folks die. They need to get out the water,'" Evans, a Pascagoula High School student, told Biloxi, Mississippi, ABC affiliate WLOX. "So, I just started getting them. I wasn't even thinking about nothing else."
One of Evans' friends also jumped in and helped get the girls to the top of their vehicle, according to WLOX.
"I was behind them trying to keep them above water and swim with them at the same time," Evans told the station.
Along with Moss Point Police Officer Gary Mercer, who responded to the scene, Evans helped bring the three teens to shore.
At one point Mercer was bringing one person to shore "who began panicking and caused him to go under swallowing some water," police said.
When Mercer started struggling in the water, Evans helped rescue him, too.
"I turned around. I see the police officer. He's drowning. He's going underwater, drowning, saying, 'Help!'" Evans told WLOX. "So, I went over there. I went and I grabbed the police officer and I'm like swimming him back until I feel myself I can walk."
The officer and three teens were taken to the hospital following the incident and were recovering, WLOX reported.
"The police department and I commend Mr. Evans's bravery and selflessness he displayed by risking his own safety to help people in danger," Moss Point Chief Brandon Ashley said in a statement. "If Mr. Evans had not assisted, it could have possibly turned out tragically instead of all occupants rescued safely."
On Tuesday, Moss Point city officials presented Evans with a certificate of commendation for his heroism in rescuing the four people. They also recognized Mercer for his "bravery in the rescue."
Evans' mother expressed relief and spoke proudly of her son in the wake of the rescue.
"I'm glad nothing happened to him while he was trying to save other people's lives," Marquita Evans told WLOX. "I was really proud of Corion because he wasn't just thinking about himself. He was trying to really get all those people out the water."
Evans told WLOX he has been swimming since he was 3 years old and didn't hesitate to jump in the river.
"Twenty-five yards out, so it was a lot of swimming. My legs were so tired after," he told the station. "Anything could've been in that water, though. But I wasn't thinking about it."