Law officers from Humboldt County and the City of Des Moines were honored Monday by the Governor for saving the lives of two people in separate water rescues. Iowa Department of Public Safety spokesman Jim Saunders says the first case happened on January 26th of this year when a man fell into the water of the west fork of the Des Moines River.
Saunders says Sheriff Dean Kruger, Deputy Christopher Janssen and Deputy Brian Ricklefs were called to the scene. Saunders says after they assessed the situation, they found the victim was about 50 yards away and could not wait for fire and rescue to get there. Saunders says they decided to put a rope on deputy Janssen and lowered him into the 30-degree water. Saunders says they were able to pull Larry Davidson to safety.
Saunders says it took several attempts to reach Davidson and by the time the deputy and Davidson were pulled in, they both beginning to suffer from hypothermia. He says there’s no doubt they saved Davidson’s life. The Governor awarded Deputy Janssen the Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor
Vilsack presented the award, “on behalf of the people of the state of Iowa. With our gratitude for your bravery and your willingness to put yourself on the line to save another.” Sheriff Kruger and Deputy Rickleffs each received commendations from the governor. The other awards went to Des Moines Police Captain Kelly Willis, Sergeant Jeff Edwards and officers Chris Hardy and Robert Clark.
The officers were chasing a man December first of last year. The man was allegedly in a stolen car that had been in a hit-and-run accident. Saunders says the man fled the car and jumped into the Des Moines River to try and get away. He says Willis instinctively jumped into the water to try and save the man’s life. Saunders says the water was 34-degrees and the air temperature was 26-degrees and there was snow on the ground. Saunders says Willis tried to save the man.
Saunders says the man was trying to resist being captured and Willis was starting to suffer from hypothermia and he had to leave the river. Saunders says officers Hardy and Edwards saw the man floating down river and unconscious and realized action needed to be taken quickly or the man would die.
The officers were eventually able to pull the unconscious man out of the water and performed C-P-R until an ambulance arrived. Governor Vilsack presented all four officers with the Sullivan Brothers Award of Valor. Vilsack says, “As a police officer, you’re sworn to uphold the law and you’re sworn to protect the public. But, it is extraordinary when you’re asked to essentially rescue someone who has violated the law. That to me is one of the truest and most remarkable signs of service, when you actually capture a bad guy, and save a bad guy.”
All of the officers received their awards from the governors and then took pictures with the governor and their family members.