Hero Teen Saves Elderly Man and Dog After Car Plunges Into Icy Lake

Joseph Salmon, 17, was ice fishing with his mom on East Okoboji Lake in Iowa on Feb. 4. He was there to fish, but ended up pulling a much bigger catch out of the lake.

It was around 3 p.m. when a Jeep fell through the ice under the Highway 71 bridge. Thomas Lee, 83, and his dog Cooper were on their way to Lee’s son-in-law’s fishing shack when they found themselves sinking.

Salmon, who is a wrestler, a football player, and a track runner, was certainly well-equipped to respond to the emergency. When he saw the Jeep break through the ice, he ran over to assist.

“As I was running, I called 911 … ran over there,” he told Tucker Carlson, according to Fox News. “And for a second, we just… I was standing on the shoreline, and another guy came down, and we were like waving at him … trying to tell him, get out, get out of the Jeep. And he was kind of in shock, didn’t really know what to do. He just kind of sitting there.”

The urgency increased dramatically when someone (mistakenly) said they saw a child inside, and Salmon stripped his outerwear and jumped in.

“I took one step and [the water] went to about my chest,” he said, according to 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.”

After breaking the glass, the teen got Cooper to safety, then attended to the driver. By that time, the water was up to Lee’s waist.

But there was a complication: Lee’s foot was trapped between the seat and center console, and it took quite a bit of maneuvering on Salmon’s part to free the driver.

“So I went all the way into the Jeep, into the front of it, pulled his leg out, pushed on the bottom of it to like push him up,” he said. “And I crawled back out, to like … have more room for him to come. And as he was coming between the seat and the roof of the Jeep … it’s not a very big gap. And he couldn’t get through that.

“So I went back in the Jeep. I pushed him back towards the front and pushed him up. So on a Jeep back seat, there’s like a lever on top of it. I pulled the seat down. So I pushed him back. I flipped the seat down and grabbed by under his shoulders and started pulling him out.”

Four others helped Lee get to solid ground, and then they all went to a nearby store to warm up. The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office posted about the incident, thanking all involved for their help.

“A Jeep went through the ice under the Hwy 71 bridge today, February 4,” the post read. “Five gentlemen pulled the 83 year old driver and his dog from the vehicle. The five were Joe Salmon of Spirit Lake, Corey McConnell of Spirit Lake, Kody Harrelson of Nevada, Cody Chester of Estherville, and Chris Parks of Hawarden. Special thanks to the Okoboji Store for allowing these gentlemen to dry off inside. The driver was transported to LRH and is doing well. The dog was dried out and is doing well. DCSO thanks Okoboji Police, Arnold’s Park/Okoboji Rescue & dive team and LRH paramedics for their assistance on scene.”

Thankfully, Salmon sustained only minor injuries from the broken glass, and both Lee and Cooper were checked out and found to be fine. Salmon went back to fishing and ended the day with two fish — but they were no longer the highlight of his day.

In the process of rescuing the dog and driver, Salmon lost his shoes. His high school track team is attempting to get Nike’s attention to replace them, but in the meantime Salmon’s gotten Jordans pledged by Marty Smith with ESPN, and the Track Guy Foundation has made the teen an offer as well.

Apparently, the area where the Jeep fell through the ice is a known problem area to locals, who made many comments on the sheriff’s post asking for some sort of barrier to be put up so incidences like this one stop happening.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.