When faced with an emergency, most of us are conditioned to flee or freeze in panic. But one 17-year-old high school athlete in Iowa did something extraordinary when he saw an 83-year-old man and his dog in peril. Joe Salmon, a wrestler, football player, and track athlete, jumped into the frigid waters of East Okoboji Lake to save Thomas Lee and his dog Cooper.
The incredible act of heroism was caught on camera and shared on Facebook by photographer Tom Gustafson. In the video, Salmon can be seen leaning through the back window of the Jeep to free the dog, tossing it towards four other men who rescue the pooch after it briefly enters the water. He then climbs into the vehicle and makes his way to the front of the Jeep and pulls Lee out through the back window, which he broke to help rescue them.
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. 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.
Corey McConnell, Kody Harrelson, Cody Chester, and Chris Parks also assisted in pulling Lee and his dog to safety, according to the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office. Lee was taken to nearby Lakes Regional Healthcare and did not suffer any injuries, while his dog was able to quickly dry off at a nearby store.
Salmon called 911 as he rushed to help Lee, and he was relieved to find out that both Lee and his dog were unharmed. “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.
This heartwarming story of heroism is a reminder of the power of selflessness and courage in the face of danger. Joe Salmon is an inspiration to us all, showing that even the most unlikely people can be heroes.