Local News

Wake Boy Scout's heroism brings national honor

Posted April 17, 2017 7:10 p.m. EDT

— Josh LiVecchi looks up to his big brother. Not only does Jake LiVecchi serve as a role model, he saved his little brother's life.

On a Memorial Day weekend family camping trip at Jordan Lake two years ago, Jake, then 12, swam across a cove to a beach and saw someone pointing back out to the cove.

"When I turned around, I saw that Josh was out there. He was struggling and wasn't able to keep himself above the water," Jake said Monday.

Josh, who was 8 at the time, was trying to follow big brother but tired about halfway across the cove and then panicked in the 10-foot-deep water.

"I was just trying to keep my head above the water," he said.

Jake had taken water rescue training a few weeks earlier with other members of Boy Scouts Troop 614 in Fuquay-Varina and quickly put his new knowledge to use.

"I got back in the water, [swam out to Josh] and got underneath him and got him up on my shoulders and swam back," he said.

Jake first took Josh back to the beach, but Josh was too scared to get back in the water – walking back through the woods without shoes wasn't an option, Jake said – so the brothers crossed the cove with Josh riding piggyback.

"He would swim under me and put me on his back," Josh said.

Jake's actions have now earned him one of the Boy Scouts of America's highest honors, the Medal of Merit.

The medal recognizes "some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others." Fewer than 6,500 have been awarded since its inception in 1945.

"I wasn't really thinking at the time," Jake said, dismissing any suggestion that he's a hero. "I just saw someone who needed help, and I did what I'd been taught to do."

Yet, Jake's biggest honor might just be the lifelong admiration of his little brother.

"I think he's a pretty good brother," said Josh, a Boy Scout himself who recently completed the same water rescue training his brother used.