Noblesville police officer on spring break credited with helping save teen’s life

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A Noblesville police officer is credited with saving the life of an 18-year-old Kentucky baseball player injured on a Florida beach.

Travis Gaines of Lexington, Ky., was visiting Destin, Fla., with his team last week when he injured his neck by diving into a sandbar. He’d misjudged the depth of the water.

Noblesville police Lt. Bruce Barnes was on spring break and visiting the beach. He saw what happened and helped save Gaines’ life on Tuesday, April 2.

“Lt. Barnes was on the beach and pulled the young man from the water, taking appropriate precautions for neck injuries,” said Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt. “Bruce and a vacationing paramedic firefighter from Southfield, Michigan, resuscitated the young man while waiting on local paramedics to arrive.”

Gaines was taken to a Pensacola hospital. His family said he injured his neck and had limited movement in his arms and fingers. He also had trouble breathing and was fighting off a fever. The family said Barnes visited their son in the hospital.

“Keith and I got to hug Bruce when he came to see Travis here in the hospital,” the family wrote in a Facebook post. “We tried to express our gratitude for his heroism but there just aren’t adequate words. He saved Travis’ life. Bruce pulled Travis out of the water. We love you Bruce and you will always be a part of the Gaines family!”

Jowitt said Barnes only agreed to talk about the rescue to bring attention to Gaines’ recovery. Friends and family have set up a Facebook page to show their support. They’ve also organized an online fundraiser to help with his medical expenses.

Bruce Barnes on Background

Lt. Bruce Barnes/Noblesville Police Department

Travis Gaines photo via Facebook


  • just me

    wow , what a hero , those officers are angels , it is awesome that they were at the right place at the right time , thank god for those two , they put their lives on the line everyday for us , and even while on vacation trying to enjoy their time and relax , they were still on alert and right there for this young man , i am sure that this young mans family is very grateful for these two hero's ……. ❤

  • anon

    This young man will have an interesting spring break story, that's for sure! I'm just glad that he had 2 heroes in the area who knew to be careful with a neck injury, or things could've turned out much worse! Wishing him a complete recovery! Again, thank you, Lt. Barnes!

  • Mrs T

    I've worked w/Lt. Barnes before and hearing of the actions he took to rescue this young man is no surprise. His dedication to keeping our society safe is 2nd nature to him and I don't believe it's humanly possible to find someone as humble as he is. Way to go, Lt. Barnes!

  • claudia

    Some people are born to be heroes….glad you are our own Hoosier Hero. Nice skills and love for mankind Officer Bruce. xo

    • Marla B.

      Thank you for all involved in Travis's rescue. He is an AWSOME young man that has a bright future. Thank you from his extended family in southern KY. God Bless each and every one of you.

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