Teen Who Misses School Ends Up Saving Lives - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/3/02-Gun Barrel City

Teen Who Misses School Ends Up Saving Lives

   Everybody has those days, when just nothing goes right at all.

   But, a few weeks ago, one Mabank teenager discovered that sometimes your misfortune is a stroke of luck for someone else. The family of 16-year old Zac Perkins says every time he ends up staying home from school, he saves someone's life.

   It's happened twice. The second time, was two weeks ago, when Perkins was having a bad day on his way to school, and ended up going to his step-dad's lake-side business, Big Chief Trading Co.

   "The car was overheating, so we were going to stop here by the store," said Perkins. "I was putting some water in (the engine), and all of a sudden (we heard) there was a boat capsized and a couple of people in the water."

   Perkins and his step-dad boarded a pontoon boat to help out.

   "When we pulled up, we saw two life jackets and we started heading toward the nearest one," said Perkins. "We saw a guy lying on his back with a life-jacket behind his head."

   It took both of them to get the man on board. Perkin's step-dad Fred Kurlander said he would of headed out by himself if his step-son had not shown up.

   "If he wouldn't have been here, I would have taken off by myself, and I guess there was some fate involved."

  But, this was not the first time Zac saved a life staying home from school. Two years ago, he pretended to be sick because he didn't want to attend class.

   That same day, his grandmother almost died.

    "(His) Nanna was sitting in her chair, and she started shaking," said Zac's mother Betty Kurlander. Zac's grandfather, who is unable to see telephone digits, needed Zac there to dial 911. Zac called for help, and tried to get his grandmother's breathing going by retrieving her inhalers.

   "I don't think my mother would be here right now," said Betty when asked what Zac's staying home that day meant.

   This week, Zac and Fred got letters from the family of Douglas Athey, the man they helped saved. Unfortunately, Douglas Brother, Rev. Eugene Athey, did not make it from the water alive that day.

   "They saved my life I can't explain how I feel about somebody who absolutely you know saved your life, said Athey.

   Eugene's step-daughter sent Zac an eagle candle, which was her step-dads favorite bird. Zac lights the candle every day.

   Zac is going into his junior year next year. His mom says Zac rarely stays home from school, and she's not happy when he does. But if it were up to those whose lives he's saved, we're sure those absences would be excused.

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