An Iowa teen is being lauded as a hero for the rescue of an elderly man and his dog after their Jeep fell through the ice and it was all caught on camera.
Joe Salmon, 17 of Spirit Lake, Iowa, was out enjoying the pastime of ice fishing Saturday, February 4 when he witnessed the making of a tragedy. Speaking with The Washington Post, the young man explained how he saw a Jeep pass him on the ice heading in the direction he suspected from experience had not fully frozen on East Okoboji Lake.
Instinctively, Salmon followed the driver with his phone ready in case he had to call for help and sure enough, the Jeep crashed through leaving him calling 911 as he raced toward the accident.
“I didn’t really think about who or anything,” he told the Post as he explained that he had taken off his boots and snow gear to wade into the water after it was apparent the driver was stuck. “I wanted to make sure he was going to be okay — to get him out. A full-size car going there, I knew it wasn’t going to end well.”
“In my mind, I was like, I know we need to do this fast,” Salmon said as the car shifted and water rushed in.
Footage of the rescue was captured by a local photographer, Tom Gustafson, who had been using a drone to record a snowmobile race, but turned his focus on the rescue when it became apparent an accident had occurred.
Salmon can be seen standing at the back of the Jeep where he used a knife to break the glass first extricating the trapped golden doodle who appeared to panic while being passed to four others who had rushed to help, standing near the water’s edge. They pulled the dog out of the frigid lake as Salmon continued to try and help the 83-year-old driver.
According to reports, the man had gotten his foot stuck between the chair and center console as he attempted to make his way toward the broken window, and again between the seat and roof of the car, which led Salmon to enter the vehicle, fold the seat down, and pull the driver the remainder of the way out to safety.
The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office explained that after the group made the walk to the nearby Okoboji Store, they were provided with dry clothes to change into and the elderly man, later brought to the hospital, was “doing well,” as was the dog.
Images: Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office
Others who helped in the rescue effort like Corey McConnell told KCAU, “We all just I guess kinda had the same thought from different parts of the lake,” and Cody Chester said, “I hope anybody would help a stranger that is in need. I mean, you never know if they’re capable of getting out on their own.”
For his part, the young man, who had convinced his mother to join him ice fishing for the first time since his father and a family friend had both died, was treated for some minor cuts before getting back out on the lake to continue fishing.
“It’s something I really love doing, and that particular day was the first time in 17 years I got my mom to go ice fishing again,” he told the Post. Salmon also returned to the lake the following day accompanied by his mom.
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