When Amy Walters and her fiancé, Daniel Jess Deiter, discovered that a work convention was to be held in Orlando, they decided to make a vacation of it. Planning to stop off at Disney World, they traveled from Bowling Green, Ohio, with Amy’s six-year-old twins, Peyton and Bryant. But then, chilling by a hotel pool in Florida, they saw a toddler drowning.
Amy and her partner, who is better known as DJ, work for Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial, a company that offers financial planning services in products such as life insurance, annuities and investments. DJ also serves on the board of Bowling Green Christian Academy and is an ex-high school wrestling coach.
As a work commitment, Amy and DJ were due to attend a sales convention in Florida. But when they heard the venue was near Disney World they decided to make a mini-break of it. So they packed up their bathers, grabbed Peyton and Bryant – who have three older brothers – and headed for the vacation hotspot.
The twins happen to be both keen swimmers. So Amy made sure that the hotel they stayed at had a pool the boys could make good use of. And before Amy and DJ were due at their work convention, Peyton and Bryant took to the hotel’s swimming facilities.
As Amy described to CBS News in July 2018, “We went down a day early and stayed at a hotel near the airport. With our late evening arrival, we wanted to let the boys chill out and swim before we had to check into the sales convention hotel. They are like little fish and would live in the water if you’d let them.”
The facilities didn’t appear to have been especially busy for a summer’s day. A handful of adults were making use of the hot tub, while a mom and her young daughter were splashing around in the shallow end of the pool. And as evening approached, the twins had no intention of leaving the water any time soon.
As Amy recalled, “As always, the boys wanted to stay and swim longer. So DJ said he would stay down with them and I could go pack things up and get ready to head to the convention hotel.” At the same time, the other mom, who was with her three-year-old daughter, Charlie, made a move to leave.
Charlie’s mom turned her back for the briefest of moments. As she did so, her daughter ran towards where Peyton and Bryant had been playing together in the deep end. In a flash, the three-year-old entered the water. But the toddler was quickly out of her depth and struggled to come up for air.
Charlie was struggling to stay afloat. And as her head began dipping underwater, Peyton and Bryant knew something was wrong. Their mom described the boys as having “a very strong twin bond and are almost always together”. So when they saw the toddler was in trouble, they intuitively joined forces to try and save her.
Despite being only six years old themselves, the twins were experienced enough in the water to recognize danger when they saw it. And when they spotted Charlie sinking to the bottom of the pool, they knew just what to do. Without hesitation, Peyton dived in behind the stricken three-year-old.
As Amy recalled to CBS News, “Without thinking twice, Peyton jumped in and swam over to [Charlie]. He wrapped his arm around her and swam her over to the ladder, where Bryant was. Bryant then helped her up the ladder to where her mother and DJ had come over to help pull her up.”
Further describing the incident to BG Independent News in July 2018, Bryant noted, “[Charlie] was a little scared when she was in the deep end.” Presumably, then, the toddler had panicked when she hit the water and, as she struggled to keep her head above water, began to sink.
Peyton and Bryant’s quick reactions likely saved Charlie’s life that day. The twins’ rapid response spared the little girl from a fate that occurs all too frequently. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that drowning is the most common cause of accidental death for children under the age of four in the U.S.
Charlie’s mom was no doubt all too aware that the incident could’ve had a very different, tragic outcome. As DJ explained to Bowling Green’s local paper the Sentinel-Tribune in July 2018, “The mom was ecstatic, so happy and scared to death, just a mix of emotions.”
The twins’ mom, too, equally recognized that disaster could easily have played out if wasn’t for her boys’ quick intervention. And she wasn’t the only one to acknowledge their actions. Once word of the story spread, the twins were quickly proclaimed heroes by people across the country.
As Amy described to CBS News, “We have received lots of calls, texts and messages from family, friends, coworkers, the twins’ and their brothers’ current and past teachers and coaches, clients and community members who have seen the story all over the U.S.”
“They have even forwarded messages from others that were sent to them from people we don’t even know,” the proud mom continued. “Even our local firefighters and policemen and women were excited and told them they saw them on TV.” But the accolades didn’t stop there.
Word of the boys’ heroism reached government level, and Theresa Gavarone, a representative of Ohio state, awarded the twins commending letters. They read, “At a time when many people are content to take a passive role in life, you took an active role in helping a fellow citizen, and you have earned the gratitude of a young girl and her family.”
Hailing the boys as among “Ohio’s finest citizens,” the honor came as a surprise to Peyton and Bryant. Meanwhile, Gavarone gave her reasons for issuing the congratulatory missives. “I just wanted to do something special,” she told the Senitinel-Tribune. “Swimming is the one skill you can teach your kids that can save lives. It’s great to see that they’ve taken their skills that they’ve learned here and put them in action.”
Meanwhile, Amy told CBS News how the twins had taken their spell in the spotlight in their stride. “They have been getting lots of hugs and high fives everywhere we go,” she said. “They are very proud of what they did and are gracious for all of the recognition and accolades and beam from ear to ear, but have remained humble and know they did the right thing, just like anyone should when someone is struggling.”