The city of Okoboji, Iowa’s mission statement is, “Improve and Protect Our Community.” Seventeen-year-old Joseph Salmon did both a few weeks ago. What he thought would be a quiet Saturday with his mother, ice fishing and watching the snowmobiles race, turned into an impromptu rescue operation.
Joseph Salmon is another Generation Z standout, and the subject of this week’s Feel-Good Friday.
Salmon was enjoying fishing with his mom, when he noticed a Jeep pass him on the ice. Salmon instinctively knew there was something amiss, because the Jeep was headed toward an area underneath the bridge of East Okoboji Lake that was not fully frozen. A week prior, two all-terrain vehicles had fallen through the ice in that very same spot. More instinct kicked in, so Salmon alerted his mom, grabbed his phone, and ran in the direction of the Jeep. Salmon witnessed what he suspected would happen: the Jeep crashed through the ice.
Salmon called 911.
“I didn’t really think about why or anything,” he told The Washington Post. “I wanted to make sure he was going to be okay — to get him out.”
Submerged in the icy lake, the Jeep quickly filled with water. Salmon jumped into the water and tried to open the back door, but it was stuck. Salmon then worked with his utility knife to break out the back window. With the help of four strangers, Salmon first pulled out a very scared Golden Doodle, which he threw quickly toward the other rescuers. The dog landed in the water, but was immediately retrieved by one of the other men. Then Salmon worked to rescue the driver, an 83-year-old man who was stuck toward the front of the vehicle.
Salmon pulled the man’s foot from where it was trapped between a seat and the center console. The man got stuck again — this time between a seat and the roof — and Salmon crawled the rest of the way into the car. Folding down a seat, he grabbed the man under his shoulders.
With the help of bystander Kody Harrelson, Salmon pulled the man out of the car and onto the frozen snow. Several people helped the man walk to the nearby Okoboji Store, a restaurant, to change out of his wet clothes. He was taken to a hospital and was “doing well,” the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office said.
A drone flying overhead captured photos and videos of the rescue.
Salmon loves ice fishing, and told The Washington Post that he finds it calming. This was the first time in 17 years (literally since he had been born) that his mother had been ice fishing. She used to do the sport with her father and a family friend, but after both died, she stopped doing it. Salmon had tried in the past to get her to go along with him, and that day, he finally convinced her. Who knew mom would get to see her son performing such a heroic act?
I have highlighted Feel-Good Friday stories in the past about young people being prepared and equipped to meet a moment–and the things that contribute to them being able to do so. Salmon wrestles, runs track, and plays football. In fact, he had injured his ankle in wrestling earlier that week, but this did not stop him from bolting into action and performing this incredible rescue.
We never know how our lives will serve a purpose beyond ourselves. An elderly man and a Golden Doodle are alive because of Salmon being ready and being present.
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