published Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Former NFL player Jerry Anderson who lost life rescuing boys honored in Tennessee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Brad Logsdon recalls seeing Jerry Anderson three times while looking for a fishing spot on Stones River.

On May 27, 1989, he and friend Josh "Pooh" McFarland left McFarland's home and ended up behind police Lt. Johnny Mosby's house.

"We tried to cross three different dams. When we finally found what we thought was a good place, he was there," said Logsdon.

"It was like he was meant to save us."

After rescuing the two boys, Anderson, a former NFL player, was unable to save himself and drowned. City officials announced plans earlier this week to rename Community Circle in the Kimbro Woods subdivision in Anderson's honor.

A Central High graduate, Anderson was a member of the University of Oklahoma's championship team in 1975. He also played professionally for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals

Now 37, Logsdon learned of the street naming from The Daily News Journal's Facebook page.

"I think it's awesome," said Logsdon, who lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

It had rained earlier that day in 1989, and water at the dam behind Mosby's home on Warrior Drive was waist-high, Logsdon said.

"The water was moving fast, and it just took us. It all happened so fast," he said.

Ken Vaughn had been with the Murfreesboro Police Department for about two years when he heard Mosby's voice come over the radio.

"I can still remember it like it was yesterday. He came on and said: 'Headquarters, there's a man drowning behind my house,'" Vaughn said. "He (Mosby) never said his name, but I knew who it was and where he lived. I jumped in my car and hit 231 (South Church Street)."

When Vaughn arrived at the scene, he saw police Sgt. Dale Robinson in the river with a life jacket. This was the first time Vaughn had ever responded to a water rescue.

Reports indicated that after saving the two boys, Anderson went underwater two or three times but never resurfaced.

"Dale had the life jacket in his hand. There was nothing for me to do but jump in and help him. I responded to what he did," said Vaughn, who now works as a patrol officer in La Vergne.

Robinson recalled being at the police department when the call came through and "went shooting out 231."

"Johnny had a life jacket on, and he was about to go in the water," Robinson said. "There was a big whirlpool out there, so I wrapped the strap around my hand and went in."

Fighting the current was hard, said Robinson, an instructor at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.

"I kept getting washed downstream. Somebody, I don't remember who it was, came out in a canoe and kept bringing me back. I went under three or four times, and I was getting exhausted," Robinson said. "I thought to myself, 'I can't do this much longer.'"

At that instant, Robinson said he felt something against his foot and reached in the water using the same hand the life jacket was attached to.

"Turns out it was Jerry's wrist. I pulled him up, and got his head above water," Robinson said. "What seemed like to me three or four minutes was really about 12 to 15."

He worked to keep Anderson's head close to the canoe while Vaughn helped pull him to shore.

"It was a raging river. It was scary," Vaughn said.

Anderson was taken by ambulance to Middle Tennessee Medical Center (now Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital), where he was pronounced dead.

Vaughn and Robinson both said it was some time before they learned the identity of the person they tried to rescue.

"Until I saw his arm, I thought I was looking for two kids," Robinson said.

Logsdon's family moved to Florida a couple of years after the incident happened. He said he's only been to Murfreesboro once in the past 25 years.

"I did go to the funeral and a little while after that, I met one of the boys who was with Jerry that day, but I don't remember who it was," he said.

The rescue is something Logsdon said he still talks about.

"I talk about him a lot. He was a professional football player, and it was a big part of my childhood," he said.

About six months after Anderson's death, the local NAACP chapter named an award in his honor. The Jerry Anderson Hero and Humanitarian Awards are awarded each January to someone in the community. Robinson and Vaughn said they always hoped city officials would do something, such as a road or bridge dedication.

"We did everything we could to save him," Vaughn said. "Twenty-five years is a long time. I'm happy his family is finally getting some recognition. This has been overlooked for years."

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