Father’s decision, boy’s obedience saved lives on Catawba River in North Carolina

01/24/2014 5:53 PM

01/24/2014 6:10 PM

CHESTER — Dennis Dixon’s decision on a bitterly cold Wednesday night – the hardest he says he’s ever had to make – will likely play in his mind for days to come. But it’s not one he’ll ever regret.

A day after rescuers fished his 5-year-old son, Connor, from the Catawba River, father and son played in their front yard, where toy guns, swords and trucks are strewn on the grass and porch. The family dog – “the real hero,” according to Dixon – played with a squeaky shoe and chomped down on tree branches.

Watching close by was Jessica Dixon, the mother who spent hours in a panic on Wednesday when she thought her son had drowned.

Connor, not one to sit still, his parents said, seemed unaffected by the chilly afternoon. He climbed up a rail, jumped from his porch, played T-ball by himself and rode a Little Tikes bike. His father watched him closely.

Just hours earlier, their surroundings were not so pleasant.

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