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Camdenton teacher honored for heroic actions in boat explosion rescue

Grant and Christy Leighty pose with Grant's Honorary Trooper award. (Caileigh Peterson/KRCG 13)

The Missouri State Highway Patrol honored a teacher and wrestling coach at Camdenton High School for his heroic actions five months prior.

Grant Leighty received the Honorary Trooper Award award for his efforts to rescue two victims following at a boat explosion on the Lake of the Ozarks in September 2017.

"This is probably one of the greatest honors I've ever received," Leighty said following the ceremony.

Leighty was enjoying a day at the Lake with his wife when he suddenly heard a noise.

"We heard this big boom and I heard my wife scream," he said. "I turned and looked and the flames were coming out of the boat pretty high."

The responding trooper said Leighty's response moved him to nominate the teacher for the award.

"I jumped in and tried to help them as much as I could," Leighty said.

Leighty jumped into the water with burning debris and pulled the man and woman to the dock. The two victims were already suffering from severe burns. Leighty's wife, Christy, worried he would go under while pulling the weight of the victims. She said nobody deserves the award more than her husband.

"I felt like there wasn't anybody that would deserve it more because I felt like he really put his life on the line in order to do what he did," Christy Leighty said.

Ronald Moore died the day after the incident. Christy said Susan Abele-Burns is doing well months later.

Leighty hoped receiving the award in front of his students and wrestlers would help them learn from this story.

"I try to make a difference in these young peoples' lives and I am always preaching you lead by example. I'm hoping in some small way that we have to be there for each other," Leighty said.

His actions on September 24 still do not surprise his wife. She said it is the type of man he is.

Leighty said what he saw and experienced on that day will never leave him.

"It's something I'll always remember and I have to deal with what I saw," Leighty said.

Christy said Moore's family reached out to her husband after the incident. They thanked Leighty for helping rescue their family member. Christy added, "the family said they would not have gotten the chance to say goodbye without what he did."

"Those words. They show him that what he did in his heart was right and that has helped him a lot. It's difficult and always will be," Leighty said.

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