Three prison inmates were assigned to clean up a park near the Yacolt, Wash., minimum security correctional facility where they're incarcerated last week.
They ended up saving three young lives.
During their work-release community service, Nelson Pettis, 37, Larry Bohn, 29, and Jon Fowler, 29, heard children's screams coming from a nearby creek.
Rushing to the water's edge, the prisoners saw three young boys struggling to keep their heads above water. The children's small canoe had capsized.
The boys struggled to stay above water in the cold, 25-mph current rushing towards the Washington River, and the inmates knew they were in trouble.
"It was raging pretty fast," Pettis told KPTV news.
"They were really scared."
He and Bohn didn't think twice, leaping into the water to grab the boys, later identified as brothers ages 8, 10 and 16, and carrying them to a small island.
There, they awaited emergency rescue.
"They kept telling us, 'Thank you, thank you,'" Bohn told reporters, adding that the three kids were "really scared" but very grateful and will be alright.
"I think we did something that any good person would do. You see three helpless kids in a river, you help. That's what you do," said Fowler.
"Just cause we're incarcerated, doesn't mean we're bad people. We made some bad choices in our lives, but we're still, we're just like everybody else."
"We're just paying our debt for what we did wrong."