The vessel in flames and burning debris in the water, Leighty jumped without hesitation from an adjoining dock into the water to retrieve two occupants of the boat. Both were severely burned.

Bravery, selflessness, sympathy, compassion. These were all words used to describe the deeds of Grant Leighty — the best of actions during the worst of times. 

Leighty swam two severely injured individuals to land after a boat explosion on Lake of the Ozarks September 24, 2017. He was subsequently nominated for an award by responding trooper, Cpl. Wes Collins.

A Camdenton coach, Leighty was surprised at school with an honorary trooper award from the Missouri State Highway Patrol on February 8, 2018. The highway patrol and school took time before its courtwarming pep assembly at the beginning of school to recognize Leighty and his representation of some of the best that students should strive for.

According to the account of the incident from the MSHP, the boat explosion occurred at Pier 31 Marina. A Sunday afternoon became devastating for the occupants of the 38-foot cruiser.

The vessel in flames and burning debris in the water, Leighty jumped without hesitation from an adjoining dock into the water to retrieve two occupants of the boat. Both were severely burned. 

With the vessel fully engulfed in flames nearby and gasoline spilling into the water, the high school wrestling coach swam to the victims and simultaneously swam them to a waverunner lift so they could be removed from the water for treatment, saving them from the immediate threat of drowning.

Critically wounded, both Susan Abele-Burns of El Dorado Springs and Ronald Moore of Nevada, Missouri were airlifted to treatment at University Hospital in Columbia. As the victims waited for emergency medical responders to arrive, Leighty stayed with them, remaining by the side of the individual most critically injured and helping EMS upon arrival.

Collins nominated Leighty for an honorary trooper award believing he should be commended for his actions. The MSHP agreed.

The Honorary Trooper Certificate is presented to a non-employee who “performs in an exemplary manner, under dangerous conditions, to aid another, or who unselfishly assists a member in the performance of their duties.”

Leighty quietly received appreciation from both school staff, students and the highway patrol. Stoic throughout the presentation, Leighty declined to speak, though his firm grasp on the award indicated a deeper underlying sentiment.

His wife Christy spoke instead. 

“I don’t know how he did what he did that day with no thought of his safety. I’m extremely proud of him. I’m very proud of him, and I’m glad he’s here at this school to affect other people as well.”

In a later press release, Captain Michael Turner, commanding officer of MSHP Troop F, stated, “Unknowingly, Mr. Leighty upheld the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s motto of Service and Protection while risking his own life.”

Turner and Collins were both on hand for the presentation along with Lt. Chris Harris of Troop F, Lake of the Ozarks zone sergeants Sgt. Steve Burgun and Sgt. Chris Daniels and Public Information Office Sgt. Scott White.

Ronald Moore passed away as a result of his injuries. 

The cause of the explosion was unclear, but Moore was in the engine compartment working on the engine at the time.