A minister in the Church of Scientology helped rescue a 13-year-old boy struggling to stay afloat in an irrigation canal near the facility at 2111 W. University Drive in Mesa.
Jim Bennet, a minister with the church, said he was in the building about 5 p.m. Sept. 17 when a receptionist urgently told him about a struggling figure in the canal across the street.
"As I stepped out the front door, I heard the screams for help," Bennet said.
Rushing across the street, Bennet and another church member, Lowell Carty, approached the canal bank and formed a two -man human chain. With Carty holding on to Bennet’s pants leg, Bennet was able to grab the boy’s arm and pull him to safety.
"He was very thankful," Bennet said. "He said, ‘You saved my life. ’ ’’
The canal runs close to the church near the Tempe and Mesa border. Bennet said the boy saw a shopping cart in the water and tried to fish it out with a bungee cord.
The boy’s clothes were becoming heavy and he was struggling trying to climb the algae-infested canal bank, Bennet said.
Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani said officers responded to the call, but the boy had declined medical treatment. Police escorted the boy home.
Bennet said he didn’t hesitate to help.
"It’s only natural to help," Bennet said. "The greatest ability in the whole human race is the ability to help. That’s what we are here to do."