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Teen hero jumps in Appomattox River to save mom and young children

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 19:26:05-04

AMELIA COUNTY, Va. – Destiny Cifers understands just how close she and her two daughters, came to losing their lives while in the Appomattox River Sunday afternoon.

It happened in seconds she said. There was rushing water, a loss of balance and they went under.

A nineteen-year-old friend stepped in and saved the day.

"Terrifying, I still have nightmares," Destiny Cifers said.

Destiny and her three and four-year-old children, along with her sister-in-law, were cooling off along the Appomattox River.

They were at a spot off Clementown Road in Amelia County. Her husband and his brother had waded downstream to fish.

Destiny Cifers with her children and husband.

"We've been down here kayaking before with the girls but mainly we play in the water," Destiny said.

While Layla and Isabella normally wear life jackets, this time they weren't.

Destiny said she and her sister in law decided to put the girls on their backs and walk across the river to the other side where some friends were putting up a rope swing.

Normally this isn't an issue, and those familiar with the area know to avoid certain areas.

Destiny said she was about half way when she slipped and both she and Layla went under.

Then her sister-in-law tried to help, but she also went under with Isabella.

That’s when teenager Brandon Hinton jumped in -- without hesitation.

He was able to grab Layla and as he made his way make to shore, he grabbed Isabella.

"If he hadn't come back," Kenly Cifers said -- referring to the fact Brandon had left for a short time -- "or if he had been delayed or something else, you know, they might not be here".

"I owe Brandon my life, he saved my girls,” Destiny said.

The Cifers said their girls won't be going back into the water, unless they are wearing their life jackets.