A group of strangers and a high school student recently came together to save an 83-year-old man and his dog from a sinking car in a lake in Iowa.
The man, Thomas Lee, and his 6-year-old dog Cooper were heading to his son-in-law’s fishing shack when his Jeep fell through the ice into the frigid waters of East Okoboji Lake.
Joe Salmon, a 17-year-old who was ice-fishing with his mother and watching snowmobile races nearby, immediately called 911 and jumped into the water to help the sinking car.
Bystanders Corey McConnell, Kody Harrelson, Cody Chester, and Chris Parks also jumped into the water to pull Lee and his dog to safety.
“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.”
Drone footage captured the dramatic rescue, showing Salmon standing at the back of the submerged Jeep bashing the rear window until it shattered.
He was then able to grab Cooper from the back and toss him into the water, where the other men pulled him to safety on the solid ice. Salmon climbed headfirst towards Lee as another man jumped in the water to help.
Lee’s foot had become trapped between the driver’s seat and the center console as the water rose to his waist.
Salmon pulled the center console up to free him and Lee got stuck once more before they managed to get him out through the back. The video shows a rescuer guiding Lee from the water to the ice, where he is then pulled up.
Lee was taken to Lee Lakes Regional Healthcare for treatment, but luckily he and Cooper were not injured. Salmon was treated at the scene for minor cuts from the broken glass and received some dry clothes from the Okoboji Store. He then went back to ice fishing and caught two fish.
Salmon lost his shoes during the rescue, and his high school’s track team tweeted at Nike asking the company to replace the shoes.
Although Nike has not yet responded, ESPN’s Marty Smith has offered to send Salmon a fresh pair.
“I’m happy that he was OK and the dog was OK. It was just crazy at the time,” Salmon said. “I’ve never done anything like that.”