A three-sport high school star athlete in Iowa wasted no time last week in jumping in a frozen lake and saving an elderly man and his dog from certain death. After a man in a Jeep broke through the ice and started to sink, the 17-year-old called 911 and leaped into action. The Today Show reports:
A 17-year-old high school athlete helped pull an 83-year-old man and his dog to safety after the man’s Jeep fell through the ice in a scene caught on video.
Joe Salmon, a wrestler, football player and track athlete, jumped into the frigid water in Iowa’s East Okoboji Lake to save Thomas Lee and his dog Cooper on Feb. 4, according to the Des Moines Register.
Four other men, Corey McConnell, Kody Harrelson, Cody Chester, and Chris Parks, also assisted in pulling Lee and his dog to safety, the Dickinson County Sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
Quick thinking and a call to action prompted Salmon to disregard his own safety and jump into freezing February water. The man was driving his Jeep onto the frozen lake to join his son, who was ice fishing when the ice gave way and the vehicle started to submerge.
— Rob Mattox (@RobMattox2) February 9, 2023
The Okoboji High School student was ice fishing and watching a nearby snowmobile race on the lake when he saw Lee’s Jeep plunge into the ice around 3 p.m., according to the Des Moines Register. Lee was traveling to his son-in-law’s fishing shack when the Jeep broke through the ice in the lake under the Highway 71 bridge in Dickinson County.
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Salmon called 911 as he rushed to help Lee. He also quickly realized there was a dog in the back seat.
Timing is everything in a situation like this, as the freezing water would be hard to withstand, especially for an 83-year-old man. What Salmon didn’t know was a dog was in the back seat. The young hero made a point to save the animals life as well, going back in for the trapped man after shattering the back window to gain entrance.
The scene was captured via drone footage by photographer Tom Gustafson, who shared it on Facebook. It shows Salmon leaning through the back window to free the dog and toss it toward the four other men, who rescue the pooch after it briefly entered the water.
Salmon then climbs into the vehicle and makes his way to the front of the Jeep and pulls Lee out through the area of the back window, which he broke to help rescue them.
A water rescue is difficult even when it is warm. It is very easy to panic when doors cannot be opened and people are trapped, running out of air. Add in the frigid water, and it’s fortunate that this didn’t end in tragedy for all three. Thankfully there were others on hand to help with the rescue.
“I took one step and (the water) went to about my chest,” he told the Des Moines Register. “I got on the bumper of the rear and tried opening the back door, but all the windows were locked, but one guy gave me a knife and I hit the back glass a couple of times.”
He removed the dog and then helped Lee, who was stuck, get out of the vehicle as the water level continued to rise. Lee was taken to nearby Lakes Regional Healthcare and did not suffer any injuries, police said.
“I’m happy that he was OK and the dog was OK. It was just crazy at the time,” Salmon told the Des Moines Register.
Real heroes don’t wear capes, and this young man is a real hero. He disregarded the freezing water and his own life to calmly and cooly rescue a senior citizen while not forgetting the dog. More young men like Joe Salmon need to be recognized for their heroic efforts.