A couple received a hero's reception at the Maine State House in Augusta Thursday, honored for saving the lives of a mother and her two children over the weekend.
Saturday, Leonard and Rosemary Wallace were fishing at Fox Pond in Township 10 in Downeast Maine when a car came barrelling over an embankment. It launched into the air and went over their heads, then into the water in front of them.
"I was dumbfounded," said Leonard. "I didn't know what the hell was going on."
"He had one focus, and that was getting to the vehicle," said Rosemary.
The couple immediately jumped into the frigid, 48 degree water - but all they could feel was adrenaline, as they fought to break the passengers free.
Leonard was shocked to see the first person he pulled out - a 2-month-old baby. He passed the infant to his wife, then reached for the driver and passenger in the front seat.
He managed to pull out a mother and her 3-year-old, bringing them to shore safely.
Township 10 does not have reliable cell phone service, so they couldn't call 911. Rosemary ran out to the road and flagged down cars passing by until someone could drive them to the hospital.
"I think Leonard and I are still in a daze, that any of this happened," said Rosemary.
State police credit the Wallaces for saving three lives.
Police have charged the mother for driving with a suspended license. They say she had been drinking and had been to a methadone clinic before the accident. The two children are now in state custody.
Once word spread about the dramatic rescue, lawmakers knew they had to recognize them.
"I wasn't surprised he was fishing, nor was I surprised he did this," said Rep. Richard Malaby, who has known Leonard for years. "In Downeast Maine, you have people who live a hard life, but do the right thing. And he's one of them."
The House of Representatives read a sentiment into the record Thursday and presented the couple with an award, thanking them for their bravery.
"It's too much," said Leonard. "I'd rather be in the woods, playing, fishing, hunting."