COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – What seemed a normal family gathering turned into a heartwarming story after a Fort Moore soldier saved the life of a 3-year-old and a father.

The incident occurred near the Georgia Power dam that separates Lake Oliver and the Chattahoochee River.

According to Matthew Cole, a Fort Moore soldier, the father, and daughter were nearly swept away from strong currents release after the Georgia Power Dam opened its gates.

The family was on the rocks near the water when the dam opened its gates. After the floodgates opened, Cole swiftly acted to save the father and 3-year-old by hopping over the safety railing and pulling both from the rocks and water one by one.

Following Cole’s successful rescue operation, he shared how individuals participating in activities on the water can avoid similarly risky fates the father and 3-year-old faced while on the water.

“Definitely situational awareness is a big thing. Like anything and then moving with a purpose. Like I said, they were moving too slow to get out of the water fast enough. So moving with a purpose, and they instill that in you during basic training,” said Cole.

Shortly after Cole rescued the father and daughter, Columbus Fire and EMS Water Rescue arrived to help additional family members make it to land safely.

“I was just happy that I was there. You know, if I wasn’t there, these guys are good (Columbus Fire & EMS Water Rescue), but if they would have gotten swept away, I don’t know if they would have gotten there in time, so I’m just glad I was there,” said Cole.